The Education Debates



John Humphrys asks leading educationists what we should teach.

In the first of three debates to mark the most dramatic reforms in education in decades, John Humphrys asks leading education thinkers what we should teach.

Whether it's to get to university, to launch a fulfilling career, or to be a useful member of society, what our children learn at school today will profoundly shape their lives, the society we live in and the health of our economy in the 21st Century.

The web gives today's schoolchildren access to previously unimaginable amounts of knowledge - and yet across Europe there has been social unrest among young people who are angry and terrified that what they know will be meaningless in a future with no jobs.

At home, Government reforms have led to big changes in the national curriculum, increased university fees and parents running their own schools.

Has there ever been a more important time to come back to the fundamental questions of education? In this first programme, leading educationalists including Anthony Seldon, Estelle Morris and Rachel Wolf debate what we should teach.

In programme two, John Humphrys asks a panel including union leader Mary Bousted and cognitive scientist Prof Guy Claxton.

And in the final debate, Schools Minister Nick Gibb, Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg, local schools champion Melissa Benn and Prof James Tooley, an expert on private schools for poor children, discuss who should teach.

Produced by Karen Pirie

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.


How should we teach? John Humphrys challenges education experts.

How should we teach? Why are we obsessed with testing? Are we really exploiting the benefits of the internet and technology? And to what extent can young people teach themselves?

Britain's education system is going through a period of huge upheaval. A new curriculum comes in next year, the way children are tested is being revamped, and academies and free schools now have new freedoms to teach what and how they want.

The internet means children can access untold amounts of knowledge and new ways of learning - as well as interact with each other and their teachers in ways that were unimaginable just ten years ago. So how are schools and pupils responding to these dramatic advances?

John Humphrys chairs a panel of leading education experts including cognitive scientist Professor Guy Claxton and union leader Mary Bousted to ask how we should teach.

Producer: Karen Pirie

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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John Humphrys asks leading education decision makers and thinkers - who should teach?

As a host of new players gets involved in the running of schools and rules about qualifications for academy school teachers are relaxed, John Humphrys asks leading educationalists - who should teach? As long as the quality is high - does it matter who provides our children's education?

More groups of parents are setting up free schools; Disney and Fulham Football Club are among businesses backing a new generation of "studio schools" in which work experience is part of the timetable - and Labour wants the military to be involved helping to run so-called "service schools".

Meanwhile academies can now recruit teaching staff who don't have Qualified Teacher Status.

John Humphrys also asks - what's the role of the state in education? How much freedom have schools really got and how much should they have? Can the market drive up standards? Why do we have private schools? Can a non-educationalist run a school or teach a class?

An invited audience gathers at Bristol University to hear a panel of key decision makers and thinkers including shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg and pro-private schools guru Prof James Tooley - debate the crucial and timely question - who should teach?

Producer: Karen Pirie

Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.