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What's the purpose of education?

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“I think the main purpose of my education is to get me a job”, said one of the young people featured in the launch video for our Purpose and Quality of Education in England inquiry. But what do you think the purpose of education should be?

As a Committee we’re eager to hear your views. Do you think there is too much of a focus on exams? Should our education system be doing more to prepare children for adult life and equip them with the skills to lead fulfilling lives? Should young people benefit from a greater focus on acquiring broad academic knowledge, based on a shared culture and values?

People have already been letting us know their thoughts via our online forum and we’re really keen to hear from parents and students, as well as employers, from those in the teaching world, and others. We know there will be many diverse answers to the question, ‘what should the purpose of education be?’, and we certainly don’t expect to find a single, definitive answer. But we do want to stimulate public debate and to try and get a clearer overview of the purposes of our education system. Too often policymakers of all political stripes embark on major educational reforms without appearing to engage, or at least acknowledge, the fundamental question of what the purpose of education should be.

In this short inquiry, we’ll also be considering the measures which should be used to evaluate the quality of education against this purpose and looking at how well the current system performs against these measures. This inquiry is the starting point for the Committee to examine over the course of this Parliament whether our curriculum, qualifications, assessment and accountability systems really are fit for purpose.

So, if you think, for example, that there should be a greater focus on the building of ‘soft-skills’, such as communication skills or team-working, or that our children are over-tested, then here is your chance to have your say on what you think the purpose of education should be. You can get involved by commenting on our online forum, by submitting formal evidence, or by tweeting to the @CommonsEd account using #EduPurpose. Do keep an eye on our website for the evidence sessions due to take place in the New Year.

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