'Over-centralisation revealed as weakness' in education

'Over-centralisation revealed as weakness' in education

The country's education recovery commissioner has said that over centralisation has been revealed to be a weakness in the education system during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sir Kevan Collins highlighted providing school lunches to pupils as an example of something that could be better done locally rather than nationally, when asked what weaknesses had been revealed by the coronavirus crisis.

He also highlighted the variation in pupils' experience of education in lockdown and their access to technology as inequalities which needed to be addressed.

Sir Kevan was asked about what strengths and weaknesses have been revealed in the education system during the past 12 months of Covid-19 during a question and answer session at the Association of School and College Leaders, annual conference today.

Sir Kevan said that the situation had allowed us to see the best and worse of the system.

He said: "I think we have seen the limits of over centralisation.

"I believe in localism. I believe in place. I was the director of education in East London and I think we demonstrated what you can do in places like Tower Hamlets, in the most deprived communities, when you work with the grain of your communities.

"If it comes to I don't know, lunches for children - actually let's do that locally. That is how that is solved.

"If we want to put summer activities on for young people lets do that locally lets harness the resources - so over centralisation has been revealed to be a weakness of the system."

"And the the other thing we grapple with all the time is the variation in our system. Literally you could be within the same town and have an experience in Covid where you were given incredible resources, incredible support from your school, unbelievable access and you could be next door and have connectivity, no lap top - and this isn't the schools fault, or you might have a school that isn't supplying the sort of materials that you found at the other school.

"So this inequality, this variation is something we do need to think about and face because I worry that growing inequality could be a legacy of Covid in all sorts of ways in our life but we shouldn't let it be an education legacy."

He highlighted school staff commitment, innovation and embracing technology as strengths of the system during Covid-19. 

He said: "Look at the way teachers and head teachers just kept driving on their communities to delivering things, being there for their families , this deep commitment we have, this relationship we have is always one of the great strengths of our system."