Skip to main content

Despite school being out for summer, the classroom was at the forefront of Bright Blue discussion last week – with our first Education Forum being held at the Two Chairmen pub, Westminster.

Chaired by Conservative Councillor and social entrepreneur Chris Hayes the Forum saw teachers, parents and those with a general interest in education policy come together to chat about learning, teaching and everything in between.

Topics covered included that familiar friend– the debate over grammar vs comprehensive education – and newer challenges such as how to help the growing number of pupils with English as a second language thrive. The success of many London schools over the past two decades was highlighted, a success which has seen high achieving children from immigrant families become a catalyst for raising educational standards for all.

When looking at educational inequalities across the board there was condemnation of any system that was content to see certain schools viewed as ‘bog standard comprehensives’, with any suggestion of stretching their pupils being portrayed as unnecessarily stressful for staff and teachers alike. It was agreed that such an environment could be safely avoided by the well-heeled, but had to endured by low-income families – entrenching inequality for a new generation.

With drinks replenished the discussion turned to potential policy solutions. Viewing aspiration as the key to pupil success was stressed as vital, with early intervention paying dividends. Stimulating curiosity in pupils was another well-received suggestion.

Further raising the status of teaching as a profession, and including businesses and civil society in school life, were other popular proposals.

Many thanks to Chris for envisioning, overseeing and inspiring a fascinating evening’s discussion – and to all the participants for their input. Expect to see much more ‘politics from the pub’ over the months ahead…

Why not join us next time? Keep up to date with Bright Blue events here.

Matt Browne is an Associate at Bright Blue