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Talking about a school revolution

CHRISTOPHER Ball is right: the optional secondary school would be a step forward (TES, June 7). The psychology changes when your mental set is that of a seeker trying to find bits of treasure in the wreck of schooling, rather than a conscript whose fate is to become a miserable rule-follower.

But the mass schooling system itself remains intact: mass, not personalised; domination-riddled, not democratic; schooling, not education. It is still obsolete, counter-productive and an abuse of several human rights.

There are bolder visions available than this. John Adcock, in his book Teaching Tomorrow, has teachers as learning coaches guiding the learning plans of family members in a variety of locations, rather than perpetuating the current roles of crowd controller and crowd instructor in the day detention-centre called school.

My own practical three-point plan is:

* Close down the Department for Education and Skills and all its domination-riddled apparatus including the Office for Standards in Education and its totalitarian model of teacher training. They have taken us back to the school system of the 1900s which the chief inspector of the time, Edmond Holmes, finally condemned as the "tragedy of education" for its stultifying national curriculum and learner-hostile approach.

* Hand over all school buildings and staff to the Public Library Service with the brief to augment their existing reading and information services to develop a comprehensive service of classes, courses and learning experiences in local community centres for personalised learning, responding to the requests and needs of learners of all ages. The approach of public libraries, after all, is already the customised one, which is why they are our most popular learning institutions.

They will need at least two kinds of teacher, some "sage on the stage" offering taught courses, and rather more personal tutor-teachers to be "guides on the side" supporting personal learning plans, such as John Adcock's learning coaches.

* Open a new Department for the Encouragement of Learning to signal a radical change in philosophy from mass coercive schooling, to open, all-age, local community centres for personalised education, designed to support lifelong learning for the multiple educational purposesof employment, citizenship, parenting and personal development.

These developments will need to be monitored and researched and I recommend that suitable people be recruited from the home-based education movement and also the Open University, since these two groups have been operating the most modern and successful forms of learning for 25 years or so now.

Let's be a bit bolder than trying to make yesterday's tired and failed idea of mass schooling work!

Roland Meighan 113 Arundel Drive Bramcote Hills Nottingham

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