Between 2010 and 2015, David Laws served in the Coalition Government as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Schools Minister, and Cabinet Office Minister.
Whilst Schools Minister he was responsible for policy areas including all capital and revenue funding, the Pupil Premium, accountability and policy on teachers and leadership.
He was kind enough to spare some of his time to meet with Talk The Talk to discuss the current state of education, his work with the Education Policy Institute and need for confident communication.
Q. In what ways can the Education Policy Institute help teachers working at the ‘coalface’ of education?
EPI can help by ensuring that the whole education debate is informed by rigorous analysis rather than by hunch or political prejudice. This will help inform teachers and all those interested in education, as well hopefully leading to better policy making at a national level.
Q. Today’s youth are the solution to tomorrow’s problems. What advice would you give to educators to best nurture today’s youth?
Ensure mastery of the basics, and then inspire a love of learning and a willingness to pursue interests and passions.
Q. With regards to improving social mobility – How important do you consider it for young people to be confident communicators?
It’s vital that young people master the basics of maths and languages, and secure good qualifications of value to themselves and in the jobs market. But good communication skills are essential too – to maximise the chances of accessing good quality jobs and higher education.
Q. Teachers today have so many things to think about. I recently read an article by Dr. Tina Boogren that mentioned that teachers make more minute-by-minute decisions than brain surgeons. Why should teachers find the time to focus on communication when they have so many other things to do that they are directly accountable for?
Because communication skills are part of a good education, and help determine whether people can take advantage of the education which they have had.
Q. If we were sitting together a year from now, celebrating a major change in education in the United Kingdom, what would that change be and why would it be so important?
A serious strategy for intervening early, prior to school, to tackle educational disadvantage which emerges early in life.
David Laws is Executive Chairman for the Education Policy Institute
– an independent, impartial and evidence-based research institute that aims to promote high quality education outcomes for all children and young people, regardless of social backgrounds.