Reform is not an overnight process

Policy-makers and change-makers would do well to give careful consideration to the excellent points made in this week's issue by Bill Ramsay (page two) and Ian Smith (right). They are essentially making the same point: reform is much more difficult than reformers imagine, it needs time and it needs resources. This is not a discovery of major proportions but, in an era where there is a ferment of reform, it is worth restating. As Mr Ramsay indicates, it is worth underlining even more if local authorities are facing a return to "the culture of cutting budgets", in his words.

We may well be at one of those crossroads in any reform process where policy-makers will have to confront the question: what gives? Surely the lesson from previous reforms is that if it cannot be done properly, it cannot be done - or shouldn't be done.

We report elsewhere in this week's issue of the strides being made, albeit modest ones, towards a new assessment culture. But we also hear the unchanging refrains - where's the time? So when a self-confessed reformer like Ian Smith says we should listen to the teachers, we should all listen.

It is a startling thought if it is true that, as he suggests, "reform over the past 30 years has not had a significant impact on classroom practice".

That's a lot of wasted toil, tears and sweat - let's leave out the Churchillian blood for the moment.

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