Dead languages beat live subjects in EBac madness

28th January 2011 at 00:00

So the education secretary thinks that he is putting things right in our much-maligned education system by restoring the primacy of "facts and figures". Forgive me for not holding my breath.

Successive governments throughout the 20th and now the 21st centuries have subjected the curriculum to continual reinvention. The really depressing truth is not so much that ministers have come up with the wrong answers as that they are asking the wrong questions.

If we want to improve the education of our children, we need to focus not on more (or different) "facts and figures" but on a much nobler objective, namely "the awakening of the mind to the consciousness of its own power, cultivating its faculties of observation, perception, reflection, judgment and reasoning: training it, in short, to form habits of thinking".

The educational reformer I quoted is Joseph Payne; he wrote those words back in 1856. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose - and that's a fact.

Martin Priestley, Headmaster, Warminster School, Wiltshire.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today