Tony Blair has said he would adopt an “even more revolutionary approach” to education if he was prime minister today.
The former Labour leader said countries across the world – including those in the “top rank” – must elevate the quality of teaching provided to the next generation.
Mr Blair, who made education a priority when he first took power in 1997, also called on policymakers to work with innovators and embrace new technology in the classroom.
Speaking at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) in Dubai, Mr Blair said: “We made a lot of changes when I was prime minister and we were in government.
“However, if I was back in power today I think I would be taking an even more revolutionary approach to the whole question of teaching and education.”
Mr Blair described education as the “single most transformative” policy area for a country.
He said: “If you take any first world country today, you don’t get to be a first world country without at least a minimum level of education.
“And every country that wants to stay in that top rank is going to have to be thinking about how they educate that next generation of children to a far higher quality, in a far better way.
“I think it needs a transformation of the teaching profession, and its status and standing within society.”
He acknowledged that education was a “big priority” for most governments, but said: “I think we have a massive distance to go before that vision is translated into a reality, which is translated into what the children actually learn in the classroom.”
Mr Blair said “the next generation of technology will revolutionise the world”, including education, and urged the sector to “grasp those opportunities” and change the way young people are taught.
“At the moment, I think the two worlds don’t talk to each other much or understand each other much,” he said.
“And the risk of that is you end up with the opportunities not being accessed, the dangers and the challenges of it not being dealt with, and the policymakers actually ending up being hostile to the development of the technology.
“When really – it’s going to happen and we should be embracing it.”