Estelle Morris to speak at Oxford Education Debate

Friday, 21 May 2010

Former Secretary of State for Education, Estelle Morris, asks 'Do the boundaries between education and politics need to be redrawn?'

Estelle Morris will be speaking at the third Oxford Education Debate of the series on Monday 24 May.

The former Secretary of State for Education will explore the question 'Do the boundaries between education and politics need to be redrawn?'

The event will concentrate on the education agenda following the election, with an opportunity for everyone to have their say about how the new government should approach its relationship with education stakeholders.

Ms Morris, now Baroness Morris of Yardley, will be leading the debate. She will be followed by Kate Dethridge, headteacher of the outstanding Churchend Primary school in Reading. Richard Huggins, Associate Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Law at Oxford Brookes University will give a school and higher education perspective.

The former Secretary of State will tell the audience: 'We can't take the politics out of education, nor would I want to. Yet the last two decades has seen a change in the relationship between politicians and teachers. The result is too often a break down in trust; politicians take more control to achieve their aims and teachers feel their professionalism is stifled and undermined. This relationship needs to be healed and looking at the boundaries between the two could help to do that.'

An audience of preeminent educationalists, school leaders, local authority representatives, Higher Education representatives and students will all have an opportunity to contribute to the discussions.

Mike Baker, former Education Correspondent for BBC News, National Education Trust Trustee and event chair, said: 'This is the perfect time to reassess the relationship between politicians and professionals. The new coalition government has talked the talk about school autonomy and setting teachers free, but can they walk the walk? Estelle Morris, with her twin experience as both a former Education Secretary and teacher is perfectly placed to give us a route map into these uncharted waters as we watch to see what the new coalition politics will mean for schools."

Hilary Lowe, Associate Dean at Oxford Brookes, said: 'The relationship between politics and education has always been of great significance to Higher Education's work and partnerships and we await with great interest Estelle's evaluation to inform our future thinking and indeed dialogues about our future role.'

The event is the third in an ongoing series, jointly organised by Oxford Brookes University and the National Education Trust. Previous debates have been led by Professor Sir Tim Brighouse and Dr Chris Yapp.