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Free to be imposed upon

Nicholas Tate's cautious rebuttal of utilitarianism as an adequate vision for schools (TES, December 2) marks a significant step forward as does the Chris WoodheadSir Ron Dearing letter emphasising that schools now have "a real opportunity" to use their discretion in implementing the curriculum.

Teachers reject the utilitarianism of the curriculum and assessment not because they are against "the basics" and high standards but because the Government has imposed its own vision of education on schools by a set of prescribed targets.

Indeed Nicholas Tate himself argues that the first task schools face is to set their own targets but then defines them as the Government's National Targets.

He is right about schools being the place where the debate about values should take place, but he neglects to mention that for years successive governments have been engaged in deriding schools' attempts to define their own values.

If the coming of the revised national curriculum is to herald a new era then the Government's practice of imposing targets rather than negotiating them with schools has to change.

If that is what Nicholas Tate is saying then I look forward to the next instalment.

JOHN BANGS

Assistant secretary

Education and equal opportunities

National Union of Teachers

Hamilton House

Mabledon Place

London WC1H

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