Welcome to my page

Children raising hands in classroom Image copyright Thinkstock

Welcome to my new column, where I'm going to try to share ideas and information behind the headlines in education news.

Education stories can have complex roots that don't fit neatly into news summaries. So this should be a place to open up the discussion more widely. It might even cast some more light than heat.

More than almost any other subject, arguments about education are shaped by personal experience, instinct and anecdote. Everyone assumes their own opinions are common sense. So it would be good to add some evidence from research and find the bigger picture.

The traditional shape of news has a habit of turning everything into a debating chamber or courtroom, with views turned into over-simplified prosecutions and defences. This boxing-ring approach, measuring the claps and boos, doesn't always tell the story. Education can be full of ambiguities, contradictions, uncertain outcomes and entirely legitimate differences. So maybe we need a bit more Graham Greene and a bit less Hughie Green.

Another aim for this column will be to include an international dimension. The impact of the OECD's Pisa tests has been huge, showing how international standards really compare. Too many education debates are about staring into a mirror and seeing the same old features rather than looking through a window and seeing other possibilities. Global comparisons are a way of getting a wider perspective. No one would look at business or economics without considering international markets.

We should also remember that this is a subject about real people, not just about data and dictums. My daughter was taking her GCSEs during one of the recent rows about qualification standards and marking - and sometimes from the news coverage it felt like we were measuring the outputs from robots in a tractor factory.

This is about real young people, teachers, parents working hard and worrying.

And finally, on the subject of real people, the last person to write this kind of column for the BBC was the late Mike Baker - gone but not forgotten. Hopefully his good influence and good humour will linger a little longer.