Trends shaping Education

In a recent post, I wrote about the effect of the housing market on schools and what might happen if there was a slowdown in transactions. Interestingly, the OECD yesterday published a much more high level approach to the same sort of question. Entitled, ‘Trends shaping education 2019’ it looks at some key trends the authors feels will affect and shape education policy.

Previous editions of the book appeared in 2008, the first edition, and then in 2010, 2013 and 2016.

This time the authors have identified a number of key themes; shifting global gravity towards Asia and China in particular; public matters; security; living longer and living better and finally, modern cultures.

Some of these trends have already had an impact on education on England. Michael Gove tried to kickstart the learning of Mandarin in schools. However, in terms of what is being taught, it is still way behind common EU languages spoken by our neighbours, but few others around the world.

Security in schools became a big issue in England after the classroom shooting at Dumblane in the 1990s, where the concern was about intruders entering schools. In more recent times, the concerns have been about ensuring pupils, especially very young ones, cannot leave without permission. How far should schools be fortresses?

With the increase in school shootings across the USA it often seems that arrival and departure times are the greatest risks for schools, certainly in the USA, rather than planned meetings with the head teacher. Total security is probably almost impossible to achieve without a huge investment in time, effort and resources. I recall visiting a high school in New York almost 20 years ago where there were metal detectors for all to pass through. Yet, there had been a shooting the previous day, with the weapon having been passed through an open window to avoid the detection system.

As we are living longer, we are also creating fewer children, despite the current bulge hitting the secondary school sector. Schools are often seeing older parents than a couple of generations ago and that may mean these parents know more about life and are more prepared to stand up for their perceived rights. This can make the job of being a head more demanding and reduce the number of teachers willing to take on the role.

Living longer means some teachers are happy to retire later, thus helping the teacher supply situation. Should the DfE run an ad campaign along the lines of ‘one year more’ and provide a bonus for those taking later rather than early retirement?

I think the current technological revolution will impact very heavily on schools and education. One year the big CES exhibition held in Las Vegas every January will major on technology and education not widescreen TVs or health devices. Not sure when, but it will happen and will challenge our whole notion of schooling and education and the link between the student, their family and educators.