What is the Purpose of Education? Feature in Solihull Living

Mr Yates, Headmaster at Eversfield Prep, reflects in this month's edition of Solihull Living (page 12) on how UK schools should become less obsessed with the delivery of knowledge and focus more on the development of a whole person.

What is the purpose of education?

It is a simple enough question but one that is highly debated and does not have one universal answer. Indeed, there are different opinions within our own UK education system and amongst school leaders across the nation.

In deciding its purpose we need to look at the aims of education. Philosophers of educational theory have proposed several:

  • to initiate children into a range of academic disciplines;
  • to prepare children for the jobs they will do as adults;
  • to nurture in children the personal qualities they need to flourish;
  • to equip children to think and act rationally;
  • to be responsive to children’s own questions and interests.

Through the National Curriculum, subsequent Government directives and the succession of ever increasing measures of accountability and judgement, UK schools have become obsessed with the delivery of knowledge. The range of knowledge in the school’s timetable is selective, narrow and laced with prejudices. Although recognised by many practitioners, areas of creativity, discovery and balanced views are vanishing from schools and have become background noise interfering with measurable, examined and judged content aimed at proving political strength and power.

It is a shame that those who believe that education is really about developing personal qualities, virtues and the pursuit of truth and enlightenment are being driven down a path that inevitably has to have failure and low self-esteem as a consequential antithesis to success for others.

Here at Eversfield we take a more holistic view of our pupils. For us the aim of education is about the development of the whole person. Instilling virtues and truths, ideals and an open, informed mind is as important as having mathematical skills, analytical minds and knowledge of the world and society. Our aim is still grounded in giving pupils opportunities in as many areas of life as possible to give them the chance to find where they excel and get enjoyment from learning. Hopefully this will equip them to be better citizens, more fulfilled individuals in life and give them the chance to succeed in the economic world.