Politics in Education eCourse Introductions

Welcome in! This video says it all (2 min):

To see who’s here, I’d love to know:

  • What attracted you to this eCourse?
  • Why would you like to learn more about Politics in Education?
  • Naureen

    Hi, I’m Naureen. The reason I signed up for this was after having attended the seminar and I would like to explore the topic a bit more. The format you e chosen for this e course, Leah, seems to be one which will allow me to do the above while still carrying on with all the other things I have going on. What I’d really lib to learn about is whether eat the end of the day what we say will/can have any effect on the politicians running education.

  • Dylan McCarthy

    Hi Leah, I am looking forward to this course and learning more about politics in education for a number of reasons. Firstly, as a teacher I get very frustrated with some top down policy dropped on us in the classroom which seems to have no real educational value or benefit to the children. Teaching for 10 years has probably made me a little cynical in this respect, but not compared to some staff I have worked with who wisely told me to ‘wait and see’ in my early years when I questioned their reluctance to get on board new initiatives – nothing seems to be new – and unfortunately education appears to be a political ball bounced in any direction at any time at the whim of whoever is in power at the time! Secondly, policy makers need to listen to the stakeholders, there is no point in us complaining and then doing nothing about it…I think it is also very important to get parents on board too in this debate. Is that a group you have opened this up to too as a matter of interest? Ultimately I hope that we can learn how to influence educational policy in a positive way. (Very aspirational!) As a matter of interest, is there a time frame to complete the course in too as like most people I’m really busy and wont be able to take sustained periods out to complete 1 day of the course in 1 day!! :) Hope to make ukedchat tonight for at least some of it…

  • David Birch

    Hello, this is David. I enjoy engaging in education/politics discussions on twitter but am frustrated that we don’t often get the chance to reflect more deeply on the issues. I’m hoping these discussions will allow us to explore them more deeply with a fuller exchange of views.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Hi Naureen, thank you for writing. In terms of your question, I’m hoping to figure that out too! I’ve gone as far as I can on my own with all the transcript and presentation slides so am looking forward to (hopefully) building a community curious enough to reflect on the summit materials (via this ecourse) because I’m sure there’s important stuff in there, but what’s needed are more perspectives than mine, to make sense of it all :D I’m so grateful you’re here! Thanks for commenting.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Hello Dylan, super that you’re here and thank you for sharing these thoughts. As we speak my head is still down creating the course content but once that’s done (and if you + others found value in this eCourse) then absolutely, I’ll look for ways to invite parents in. Please feel free to move with the content as you like. You’re welcome to save the course emails and click the links to the relevant pages at times that suit you. The content is serious, but that doesn’t mean we need to be serious and ‘disciplined’ about our interaction with it. Main thing = have fun. I think you may be surprised at how in-line your thoughts are with a number of the Summit speakers.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Me too David. I like calmness, time to reflect and (although twitter is so valuable for debate) more space than a tweet is just nice sometimes. Welcome to the course.

  • Kamil Trzebiatowski

    Hi Leah. Very much looking forward to the course. I haven’t actually come across a course like this before, so I suppose this is what drew me in! I see politics as pretty much determining much of what we as teachers are asked to do (actually, correction, “told” to do) in our classrooms. The current data-driven education landscape is very much determined by politics, I think, and it’s just one of many aspects of how politics and politicians determine what schools are asked to do. I’d like to understand more about the process, and more about what others say about the processes. I’ve just happened to be listening to Hargreaves and Fullan’s book “Professional Capital” (it’s on Audible), which is full of references to and criticisms of political agendas influencing (mostly interfering with) the way schools are run and preventing teachers from developing their professional capital. As an EAL teacher, I know how politically charged issues related to EAL can be: thinking of funding schools receive for EAL (the 0.27% is determined by the government), and of course matters of refugees and Prevent.

    Essentially, I’d like to learn more the mechanisms of politics that affect my own practice – hopefully understand it on a deeper level than my current one.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Thanks Kamil for the introduction and welcome to the course. The idea to do this popped into my head only a few ago and I said ‘OK then!’ so now it exists. Your perspective from the field of EAL is very interesting to me and I believe others on this course will be interested too, in your take on the materials. Hope this lives up to your expectations and if not, I’m open to suggestions.

  • Kevin Hewitson

    My name is Kevin and I am following up on earlier events that I have given my voice and support to involving Leah. I am passionate about finding ways to ensure the teaching and learning environment is “insulated” from political interference as far as is possible.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Kevin, Hi – great to see you here and thank you so much for your continued support. How fun to write to you longer than tweetlength! :D Hope you find some interesting angles that add even more fuel to your thinking in the content.

  • Mr Humanities

    Hello. I’m Sean. I’m intrigued as to what the content of the course may be. I like the idea of accessing the material when it’s convenient for me. I hope to contribute purposefully to the never ending debate of politics in education. In a nutshell, whilst politicians are involved in educational decisions, things will not improve – that’s my starter for 10.

  • Kamil Trzebiatowski

    Thank you. Looking forward to meeting you in person, by the way, in late Feb!

  • Leah K Stewart

    Hi Sean, welcome to the course. I’m also a huge fan of working out my own schedule. Never understood why others insisted on doing that for me, to such a high degree?! I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the content. Each day has a completely different feel to it, so I hope you enjoy the experience.

  • Cat Salt

    Hi, I’m Cat. Being responsible for Teaching & Learning and studying for an EdD have fired my curiosity in different directions. I enjoy engaging in education discussions on twitter (invariably about politics!) but am frustrated that we don’t often get the chance to discuss the issues more deeply; I’m hoping that this will provide that opportunity.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Welcome Cat. Glad you say that, because I’m excited for this course format and comment set-up opening up deeper conversations too – it seems to be doing so already! Thanks for being here. Please let me know if you have any questions as you progress.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Hello All – here is an message I’ve received from a new course participant @disqus_AIWvh2oo5L who said I could post it here for you…

    “Hello, my name’s Richard. I signed up to this course because I always want to be open to receiving further information, advice and the thoughts of others around politics in education and consider how to put the greatest amount of pressure possible on the government, and future governments, as possible in order to make positive change happen.

    As well as being a teacher I am also active in politics and hold a relevant position politically as one of the two current co-convenor for the Educational Working Group of The Green Party of England and Wales. Unlike other political parties most of our education policies are written and communicated by members of our party: these people are often part of our group and work in education; I am a teacher, my co-convenor is a teacher, most of our group work in education (or they did before they retired), our current education Spokesperson is a teacher.

    I am acutely aware that, try as we might, we are not yet winning the big battles in The Green Party. Most of our education policies are agreed to be progressive and forward-thinking, attract positive support by those with specialist knowledge, but we still need to communicate our messages to the masses more effectively and try to win further support. There is also the difficulty that, as a party that is still defined as ‘minor’ we get less media coverage: our previous Spokesperson absolutely destroyed Nicky Morgan in debate before the last general election – hardly a huge achievement in itself, but it did happen – and this debate got a real paucity of coverage.

    I suppose I am looking for two things on reflection from this course. 1) How do we continue to support and serve teachers by challenging government and growing popular support for our party. 2) Are there important developments to policy, or policy supporting documents, that we can make as a priority in order to further facilitate this. We are very active with submissions to Select Committee, etc. We need to maintain this and also go further.”

    Thanks Richard – I see you’ve already commented in the eCourse content. Great to see you there. Best, Leah

  • Tony Dimmer

    Hello Leah, I have signed up for the course after reading about it on the RSA site. I was a teacher in the 70s, head in the 80s and 90s and have been an educational adviser in the primary sector for 20 years. Over that time I have been fascinated by the impact of the political scene on educators and learners, usually trying to find coherence and support my clients. The present scene is so full of contradictory forces that make leadership much more difficult for those on the ground. I am, hopefully, coming to the end of writing my EdD thesis on Collaboration and School Improvement which has served to sharpen my interest in trying to understand and find ways to improve the future for teachers and learners, both of whom are achieving so much more than they were 15 years ago.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Hi Tony, welcome to the eCourse! You’ll find this packed with information and I do also hope, given your current research, you’d like to share some of your findings in discussion wherever you feel it’s relevant. Just over 20 year ago I was starting primary school and my observations, as a student, were that my teachers are stressed from being pushed into boxes (for reasons I didn’t understand) so now I’m trying to understand why, via material like this eCourse. If you’d ever like a second pair of eyes on all or part of your thesis, feel free to hit reply to any email from me and share the doc. I’m enjoying reading various academic reports on these topics, especially when I’m connected to the person running the research.

  • Alan Gurbutt

    Hi Leah, thanks for my invite onto your course. I am a parent and former school governor. My background has been working with young people who have needed additional support for a variety of reasons. I run a social enterprise that provides open source support for literacy. My view is that we parents and teachers need to work together for the universal good of education. I have a few ideas of how we might repair the damage that has been done to education, so I am hoping this course might help me to see if they are relevant.

  • Chris Parsons

    Hi Leah – as you know, I’m very interested in the philosophy of education, and particularly that sticking point between various warring factions regarding what the purpose of education ‘should’ be, and what the implications then turn out to be for the way we go about things. I suppose I’m particularly interested in two aspects:
    One: How the purpose of education is intrinsically linked to the purpose of society.
    Two: How – assuming we do concede that what we do in schools is there to fulfil the goals of our society – do the opinions, needs and beliefs of our diverse society channel democratically through government into our education system?
    Looking forward to absorbing new perspectives I haven’t been thinking about, and thanks for putting this all together!


  • Leah

    Hello Alan, welcome and yes – I do believe this eCourse will help you see examples to check your ideas in the context of what’s already been tried and what is happening now in education. Thanks for being here and for your dedication to collaborations between parents and teachers.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Your welcome Chris! It’s been a learning curve for me absorbing all of this information and it’s incredibly fun and challenging (in a good way) discussing this with interested others…. “assuming we do concede that what we do in schools is there to fulfil the goals of our society – do the opinions, needs and beliefs of our diverse society channel democratically through government into our education system?” Day 4 will, I’m sure, give you some interesting food for thought on this in the context of the rest of the material.

  • Alan Gurbutt

    Hi Leah. Sorry I had trouble signing up before.
    I can’t think of anything profound to say at this hour, just thank you for starting something new for education. My experience resides in Lincolnshire. I am a parent who has come to realise that much to do with the successes and failures of education is located outside of school buildings. But that’s not to let the structure off the hook – or the imposition of testing and performance targets. I often wonder which came first, social disadvantage or inequalities in education. The 1944 Education Act could have provided an opportunity for a non selective education system, free at the point of access for all, but sadly it wasn’t to be, faith schools supported private schools and a tripartite system of state education was born. Having had a tough time in school with undiagnosed Dyslexia in the 1970s, I envisaged a better deal for my children. I think that in some respects their education has been better, but 21st century English education is still a far cry from becoming comparable to the NHS. A strong sense of identity and social class attached to attending particular types of school seems to drive ‘parental choice’ and school admissions, as does wanting to climb out of poverty. I have spent too much time campaigning for an end to the 11+ school transfer test while coming to the realisation that child poverty, in terms of cognitive development, is a major driver for the continuation of academically selective schools. Unlike state education, all social classes make use of the NHS. The drive for health removes barriers, it levels the field. Perhaps it’s not too late to develop a National Education System. I hope that we can share some positive ideas.
    Best wishes,

  • Leah K Stewart

    Hello Alan, welcome and thank you for sharing where you’re at and I’m certain you’ll find hope and knowledge in the contents of this eCourse – it did that for me, that’s why I’ve opened access – plus it means I can learn alongside others which is more fun!

    “I often wonder which came first, social disadvantage or inequalities in education” – when I was escaping the office job for some lunchtime quiet in the town library I once picked up ‘Schooling and Social Change 1964-1990’ by Roy Lowe which helped me see that the things I’d seen and felt might not have just been ‘in my head’. For so long I’d thought they were in my head because the school system I was being educated inside seemed beyond reproach, so I stifled my questions. Roy Lowe’s book, amongst others, helped me see that I didn’t need to stifle these questions and I’ve since then discovered it’s far healthier to not have secret dialogues going on, but to feel like we can actually talk about things that worry us. Small steps! Glad your’re here Alan.

  • Alan Gurbutt

    Hi Leah. Thanks for your welcome.

    I think education presents huge potential for social change, so, no, don’t let’s stifle debate. Politics in education should be available to anyone who wants to get involved. It’s great that you have taken the initiative.

    I’ve had a busy few days so aim to begin to read the course material next week, if that’s okay.

    I’m also spreading the word about your course so you may get some new members.

    Best wishes,


  • Julia Steward

    Hi Leah, my reason for signing up is twofold: primarily, because I believe that education is the most important gift we can give any child; I’m a governor, have worked in various guises within education for many years (Ofsted, external adviser, leadership programme facilitator etc) so of course I’m interested in influences (and influencers) in education. Secondly, I have done a lot of online facilitation and am considering setting up an online course myself, so I thought I’d see how it works from a participant’s viewpoint.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Hello Julia, welcome and thank you for your work as governor and for sharing the ways in which you’ve contributed to education. I (and others in this community) would love to hear your thoughts on the rest of this course as informed by your personal experience. Unlike most course hosts, I’m not the expert here but rather a facilitator of content inherited via my involvement in the Politics in Education Summit. The experts are those who provided the summit presentations and, increasingly, those who join this community so please do share with us your own insights as well!

  • Julia Steward

    Happy to share my thoughts when I have any – I’m taking the slow route through the course so forgive me if comments come slowly. I have the emails lined up and will go through them over the next couple of weeks.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Great plan Julia; an advantage of online content is the flexibility to progress at the pace that works for you.

  • Dan Roberts

    Following the invitation from Leah it sounded like a great opportunity to explore politics in education more. I am interested in the elearning module itself and how this works as a vehicle for sharing information and discussions for an idea I have for an elearning leadership course for my own staff at school too so as well as the content the process of this course is intriguing!

  • Leah K Stewart

    Great to see you here Dan and thank you (and others) for creating your Disqus account to comment from. I spend a good deal of time thinking about how to manage these comments. Another advantages of this plug-in is that each person can use their profile to link to wherever they want. In your case it’s to your website, while others may prefer to link to their twitter or another profile :)

  • Christalla Jamil

    Thank you for your invitation Leah. After meeting you a few months ago I realised that we share many commonalities and interests. I have thoroughly enjoyed our professional discussions to date and am curious about the content of the elearning module. As Kevin Stannard said, ‘Education is too important to be left to politicians’. I am looking forward to contributing as well as receiving colleagues’ thoughts and opinions.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Hi Christalla, so lovely to see you in here and I too have absolutely enjoyed talking with you since we met back in spring. I’m hopeful you’ll find this course ‘real’ meaning that, though there is a very thought through structure, you’ll not be barred from the actual complexities that exist at this level of education policy. See you inside!

  • Steffan Aquarone

    Thanks Leah-
    I’ve joined because I’m interested in both education and politics and I hope to pick up some new, radical ideas that will inform my own personal political values.

  • Leah K Stewart

    Excited to heat that Steffan, especially knowing the kind of direction you’re looking to go in! For others here; Steff spoke at TEDxNorwichED and I interviewed him afterwards on his talk where we touch on policies regarding home education. So if you’re curious about a fellow course participant and have about 30 min, here’s our video: https://youtu.be/LdY1FFuP_YU