ED’s letter - Seeing both sidesAugust 2015
I am easily swayed by well-reasoned arguments. A logical, clearly articulated explanation will find favour with me – until I hear the equally sound counterargument, and then I find myself doubting my initial stance. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in journalism. It helps bring both points of view to the fore, and balance to issues and articles.
Sometimes I think a little more considered debate wouldn’t go astray in education. It is a sector in which people are so quick to choose sides and form opinions without really listening to the other line of reasoning.
One topic of contention that continues to polarise the education sector is IES – the Investing in Educational Success initiative and its counterpart, the Joint Initiative’s Communities of Learning. For this issue we asked two primary school principals on opposite sides of the IES coin to express why they support their chosen initiative. Both make for great reading and are bound to challenge – or perhaps confirm – existing opinions.
While perhaps less contentious, the All of Government (AoG) procurement programme for education also continues to divide people. When the AoG IT hardware contract was fresh off the blocks, I was influenced by a small local IT hardware supplier who convinced me the contracts were detrimental to businesses like his. Then, upon closer inspection, I saw the savings that schools could make, the awareness of taxpayers’ money, but also the flexibility for schools to opt in if they pleased, and I saw the benefits of the initiative.
Now, five years into the programme, the fact that this particular AoG contract is about to renew gives pause to reassess my stance. I’ve spoken with schools who feel they can get a better deal negotiating with local suppliers themselves. I’ve spoken with others who are pleased to take advantage of the AoG contract. I’ve heard from suppliers in support of the scheme and others who are opposed. The good thing is, schools have a choice. They have the luxury of choosing how and where to spend their money.
That is ultimately what this issue is about – how schools spend their money. And on this topic, we aim to bring you, the reader, some very different approaches taken and some very different views on funding and purchasing priorities. A picture begins to emerge of how diverse and flexible our schooling system is, and how that allows schools to make the best decisions possible for their students.
Jude Barback, Editor