Are any DfE policies based on educational merit?

We are at the mercy of political whims: it's time for an independent body (advised by teachers) to implement change

Colin Harris

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It's time for a reality check.

There are so many problems associated with our education system, and yet most teachers know that these problems originate in the continual interference of successive governments.

For far too long schools policy has been driven by the narrow agendas of political parties with little or no respect for the hard-working professionals at the chalkface. And thus we have schools forced to model their curriculum on rote learning, with all creativity driven out, and where success is dangerously measured by narrow parameters, which are then used to punish teachers, the school and ultimately the pupils for not "passing".

Our society is a complex one: far too many pupils are losers even before they start school. Their school life is then based on political whims rather on what they actually need. 

Surely it's time for schools to be controlled by an independent body with a clear mandate to involve those who actually know something about education?

The first task of this organisation – or commission – should be to delve deeply into the actual educational merit of the received wisdom present in modern policy conversation.

How about this little list for a starting point?

  • "There is more funding in education than ever before". Well, of course, there is, but with rising numbers, costs and inflation the reality is that all schools will take a huge cut by 2020.
  • "Ofsted is there to support schools, and won't be driven by just the data". Wouldn't we all love this to be true? But the reality is that the inspectorate is no more than a puppet for the government whose obsession is to compare and league table all schools.
  • "All pupils in this country get an equal chance". The disparity is evident throughout the country and amplified by those who believe they can afford to go to university and those who can't. And perhaps the professionals at the DfE need to start to understand deprivation.
  • "The government is working relentlessly to reduce teacher workload". Ask any teacher and they would provide the reality check for this. All the time external pressure to continually improve is enormous, this pressure will be placed on the individual teachers. You need to look at the accountability regime first.
  • "Choice makes our education system better". The reality is that choice just confuses most people, and we are left with a disjointed, fragmented system.

There is so much to address. This in itself would not be a problem if this was left to the professionals to sort out, but sadly this responsibility lies with government and the latest incarnation of the education secretary...

Oh dear.

Colin Harris has led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsted reports were "outstanding" across all categories

To read more of Colin's articles, visit his back catalogue

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Colin Harris

Colin Harris

Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsted reports were “outstanding” across all categories.

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