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Professor Deborah Eyre presents at the North of England Education Conference

15 January 2014

Professor Deborah Eyre, Director of Education at Nord Anglia Education, believes that the polarised education debate in the UK is holding back the UK’s progress in international league tables.

Speaking ahead of the North of England Education Conference in Nottingham, which is being held from 15-17 January, Professor Eyre said that Britain already has the expertise to raise standards but it can learn a lot from other countries about consistency.

Professor Deborah Eyre commented:

“Other countries have a lot to teach us about driving up standards across our education system. It is not that England cannot create good education, indeed on the contrary, at its best British education is seen as exemplary and is in considerable demand worldwide, our British International schools are clear evidence of this. What England as a country seems unable to achieve is consistency in its education system.

“For years discussion on education in England has stagnated with polarised positions framing the dialogue. The pro-Grammar Schools debate, the vocational versus academic debate, the independent versus state school debate and most of all the social mobility debate. This is what needs to change in England. Whilst England spends a great deal of time angsting about how to help make sure everyone reaches minimum targets others take them for granted and have a more ambitious agenda.

“The rest of the world is focusing on how to help more students get to high levels of performance. It is not that they are lack concern for those with challenging backgrounds but rather that they want a better future to be the norm for everyone not the preserve of the few. This is particularly evident in the Asian countries who are outperforming most other countries now on every level.

“Yet the irony of all this is that the countries that are doing well on PISA and other measures  are ones who are looking to British educational experts in HE and the school system to help them to take their own next step. They already have strong systems with high attainment on conventional measures but they are now looking at how to be more creative in their education systems. They are concerned that their students can pass the test but don’t know how to use their knowledge. At its best British education combines the two. This is the ‘silver bullet’ that everyone is seeking as it produces the types of students we need if we to have an economically successful and socially at ease.”

Cllr David Mellen, portfolio holder for Children’s Services at Nottingham City Council said: “All of us need to value the gift that education brings young people. I’d like to welcome Professor Eyre to Nottingham and I look forward to hearing her speak.  In Nottingham we have very good international education links and we are keen to benefit from our extended international networks.  The University of Nottingham is the only university to have a campus in China.  At primary level Dunkirk School is a multi-national school which is located over two sites, and has children from many different nationalities. It has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted three times in succession.  As the world gets increasingly smaller, it becomes all the more important for us to learn from the best practice and maximise the chances for our young people.”

Taking place at the Nottingham Conference Centre, the North of England Education Conference will look at the role of education, across all sectors, in fostering innovation, inspiring creativity and improving the employability of learners. Attendees will discuss how early years settings, schools and academies and further and higher education institutions can work collaboratively to get young people ready for the world of work, in new and emerging industries.

Nottingham has strong relationships across the world, with six international partner cities.  Although world-renowned for its Robin Hood connections, the city’s reputation as a science city is far-reaching and the University of Nottingham’s pioneering campuses in China and Malaysia, and Nottingham Trent University’s strategic international partnerships are creating exciting new opportunities in international education.


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