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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Thursday's Child

This report is structured around key questions for the education system as we move into the second decade of the 21st century. We set out a vision for educational reform that is underpinned by the belief that schools have a broad role to play in helping young people become healthy, empowered citizens, and to achieve success as future independent learners.

It is an exciting time to be thinking about educational reform. The last few years have witnessed important shifts in the political agenda on schools in England. First, there has been a tangible change in how policy has emphasised the different objectives of the school system. Recent reforms have returned to the idea that schools have a wider role to fulfil than simply delivering on narrow measures of attainment - in equipping young people with the skills they need to achieve a version of success more broadly defined.

There has also been a shift from the idea prevalent in the 1980s that educational reform should mainly be about curriculum, assessment and accountability. There is now a recognition that focusing on these policy levers alone seriously undervalues the role of the teacher, which educational research shows has the biggest impact on learning in schools.

This report takes these two shifts as its starting point. It looks to the future of educational reform, underpinned by an understanding of the changing needs, goals and objectives of schools and sets out short- and long-term recommendations to address the barriers that prevent our school system from being world-class.