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Has business and accountability in education driven out creative curriculums leading to lack of provision of an inclusive broad-based social education for all?

Christine Challen

The ever increasing presence of business and accountability in education at all levels to the point at which staff well-being and the real and true meaning of education has been severely damaged. The big challenge and question is how do we change this destructive force and make education inclusive for all abilities? One possible way is to consider how we might facilitate equal credit and achievement to both vocational and academic qualifications thereby enabling all to achieve. This requires at the heart of all education a curriculum that is creative, engaging and most importantly relevant not just to “employment skills”  and whether this is achievable is still questionable but to other challenges including personal, health, social, financial and problem solving tasks. Further if we want to try and have a business presence rather than a takeover in education we need to have a more flexible approach to this and be aware that business and education are not always good or even compatible bed partners!

So let’s start with how business and education has been defined: A “business is an organization or enterprising entity engaged in commercial, industrial, professional activities.” ( In contrast education is the wise, hopeful and respectful cultivation of learning undertaken in the belief that all should have the chance to share in life.”  ( )

There are two key elements in these definitions as highlighted in bold “professional activities” and “chances to share in life.” I have already previously detailed as to why teaching should be thought of as a profession ( however this key word in the business definition is probably one of the few areas where they are both compatible yet we still continue to ignore it.

Emma Hardy in her maiden speech calls for “drugs education to be included in a wider, personal, social and health education.” However she also brings out a number of key aspects which I think as educators and professionals (I use that word because we are even if most politicians and Ofsted disagree!) are essential especially in preparing students for problem solving in the wider world. She states that schools need to teach children to critically think, be creative and encourage them to inquire all in my view the real meaning of education. These skills prepare them not only for academic challenges but social/life ones as well. Hardy blames lack of these this on “restrictive/ stifling curriculums” as well as stating that we are “reducing schools to learning factories.”  This maybe is exactly where business and education deviate. You cannot, as Biesta (2013) argued, consider education as an interaction between machines i.e. churning out large numbers of the same product as this term “learning factories” implies. Education is an interaction between human beings or rather a diverse group of individuals who all have different talents and needs and I am not just implying SEND students here who are a joy to teach.

I recall a community curriculum event that I attended recently at Newcastle University to drive community projects to encourage the creation of creative curriculums to broaden the education experience. “The Shed Project.” was a fascinating idea where different materials were collected to create different subject sheds. One image that stuck was that of a little boy previously he struggled with maths at school now totally absorbed in measuring wood to make a photo frame in a maths shed! Creative, liberating, risk taking strategies and curriculums that with time built in to allow these skills to be taught. As Hardy put it “there is no point in having a drugs education programme if there is no time to teach it!”

So less teach to exams, stats statistics and more “moulding and disciplining students to become subjects of action and responsibility” thereby developing free, critical thinking individuals who are able to cope with academic and life/social challenges as well as contribute to communities and society.


Biesta, Gert. J.J ( 2013) The Beautiful Risk of Education.  Boulder and London: Paradigm

Challen, C (2017) Teaching a job or a profession

Hardy E. 2017. Ex-teacher Emma Hardy warns against schools becoming ‘learning factories’ in maiden Commons speech. TES 18th July 2017

Lofthouse, R (2015) Becoming More Creative in Academic work  {accessed 30/11/15} Writing For Research

Smith, Mark.K what is Education a definition and a Discussion {accessed on 20/07/17}

TES (2017)