Don't be fooled by fad for Finnish system

10th June 2011 at 01:00

I applaud the remarks of Tim Oates (with whom I worked some years ago in his Qualifications and Curriculum Authority days) criticising the education policy fixation with "flavour of the month" initiatives ("Holy grail of Finnish education a 'red herring' for English schools", 3 June).

Having monitored schools' methods of working within the national curriculum for the QCA between 1997 and 2007, nothing surprises me any more in the Government's response to research exercises. However, Mr Oates is quite right to caution against the desire to replicate models of curriculum seen to be succeeding in other countries.

Finland is lauded for topping one of the currently fashionable, international bean-counting league tables - why is this considered worthy of praise? Surely we have had enough experience of "teaching to the test" in England over the last 20 years not to want to prolong the torture for our teachers and children?

Could we not pursue a more "equitable pedagogy" that places the child at the centre of a learning curriculum, rather than of a measurement machine?

Professor Bill Boyle, Chair of educational assessment, School of Education, Manchester University.

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