Last week we celebrated academic success at our annual Academic Awards evening. We pride ourselves on extending the intellectual curiosity of all our students here at BMS and there are numerous avenues for them to indulge their interests and passions.
There has been a flurry of media attention recently on education reforms, funding and the status of Independent Schools with a proposal from one political party to abolish them. While I welcome attention and debate I have a concern that education in the UK is suffering more and more from politically-motivated intervention and meddling. Changing governments, seeking to impose their own views of education, results in a short-term strategy that can be easily over-turned and changed at the next election. This approach creates uncertainty, a lack of coherence and an inability to focus on the issues that really matter.
The recent GCSE reforms were a good example of a short-term approach which merely resulted in more stress for students and staff alike. The government failed to address the bigger issue which is the need for a complete overhaul of the curriculum in Years 9-11 so that students can develop necessary skills for future employment. We need a long-term vision, one that all parties agree upon thereby supporting all students and allowing education in the UK to flourish in a variety of settings.
It frustrates me that Independent Schools are all viewed as the same. According to political campaigners, Independent School parents are all awash with wealth. We know that this is not the case and pride ourselves on being different. Our families work incredibly hard, making a number of sacrifices because they have chosen to provide their sons or daughters with the best possible education. More than 50% of our students are new to independent schooling and have joined us because they are often not happy with the local education on offer.
I am also puzzled that politicians seem to believe that there is a division between the Independent and State sectors. I simply don’t see it. The two work together and collaborate in so many ways; whether it be sharing resources, discussing teaching and learning or sponsoring academies. Here at BMS, for example, we have an extensive science outreach programme in which our staff and students work with a number of local schools. We welcome students from across Bedfordshire to put on joint productions and we collaborate on DT projects. There are many more and we will continue to promote these partnerships. The crucial point, here, is that both benefit.
We encourage our students to achieve the best possible academic results by focusing on outcomes. Our aim, ultimately, is to ensure that when they leave us they are prepared for a rapidly changing society and able to lead fulfilling, happy and active lives.