The blame game

25th January 2013 at 00:00

I was disappointed with Jon Coles' comment piece entitled "Accountability works. Let's have more of it" (11 January).

I would like to offer my view of the origins of "accountability".Someone connected to the government of the 1980s decided that there were good ways to prevent politicians from being blamed all the time. In the case of education, the solution was league tables and increased testing. You could then make schools "accountable" for their results and blame lower-performing schools for failing to achieve. Of course, this would be totally unfair because these lower-performing schools might simply have lower-ability intakes - but who would care? Most of that government would have used the private sector anyway.

In reality, things got even worse. Parents were offered more choice, with the obvious effect that parents of potentially higher-performing children in the catchment areas of lower-performing schools made different choices. As a result, many lower-performing schools' results would have been adversely affected, and the term "failing schools" made it easier not be a "failing government". Basically, it's all part of a rather successful "blame game". Schools can no longer think of using terms such as "caring" or "pupils" but have had to move on to terms such as "results" and "accountability".

As someone who started teaching in the 1970s, I wonder if there is a prevailing feeling that teachers and schools of that time couldn't have been doing a good job simply because they weren't "accountable" in the way that they are now.

Mike Rath, Barnstaple, Devon.

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