15 June 2012, 11.40am
By Nicola Beech
Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, joined the conference once again to give us a whirlwind update on the views of the nation. As Jane Creasy said in her introduction, “he knows more about us than we do”.
He started his presentation by acknowledging that life isn’t getting any easier, particularly with last summer’s riots still fresh in our minds. So what’s going on? He identified six major trends that are happening around the world:
Talking about the importance of education, Ben said we were actually in a pretty good place - people aren’t worried about education. Teachers continue to be respected and people consider standards to be good.
In terms of key education priorities, pupil behaviour and discipline were deemed to be the most important issues that need to be addressed. And when asked what we could do to reduce crime, better parenting and better discipline in school, alongside more police on the beat, were the top responses.
Ben spent time giving us insight into the views and experiences of offenders in the August riots. He talked about the clear overlap between a range of risk factors such as family problems, neighbourhood, accommodation issues, friendship groups, lack of purposeful activities, substance misuse, truancy and anger management. In relation to school, many wanted more support, especially out of school in the holidays and at weekends.
He went on to talk about how people perceive and value GCSEs and A levels. He stressed that students value exams and assessments and that on the whole there is a continuing confidence in our qualifications. There were concerns about controlled assessment though, especially the impact on teaching and learning time.
He concluded by saying that times are tough, but that the optimism of our young people remains positive. We don’t know what’s going to happen next and this is a challenge, especially when you consider that it is the young that are hardest hit.
And finally he asked us to remember that all rioters have families and he set the audience some homework – to consider how we can connect even more with families in the future.