Editorial - We launched in 1910 in the throes of a schools revolution; 100 years on, another is on its way

3rd September 2010 at 01:00

Next week The TES will be 100. As we believe in long drawn-out celebrations, we will be marking the occasion for the next 12 months. This is partly because, like all centenarians, we are immensely pleased with our achievements - especially the feat of simply being around longer than almost everyone else - and partly because the teaching profession has a lousy sense of history. For all the undoubted progress educators have made in the preceding decades, they have tended to forget what went before. We have therefore taken it upon ourselves to remind them with a weekly canter through our archives (page 9) and a monthly look at a topic that has been constantly debated over the years. The first, on behaviour - "From hooligans to hoodies" - will appear next month.

The TES was launched in 1910 to assess and articulate the proposals for educational reform sweeping the country. One hundred years later, we are on the verge of another educational revolution, though this time the radicals are in government, not outside urging it on. The changes Michael Gove is proposing will alter the system fundamentally. If his ambitions are fulfilled, schools will be subjected to the same scale of challenges that confronted their predecessors under Thatcher's reforms of the 1980s or the comprehensive revolution of the 1960s.

To assess the impact of Mr Gove's revolution, The TES is launching a series on the areas most likely to be affected (pages 28-29). A lot of the early debate has naturally focused on academies. But the effects of his new and proposed legislation will have implications for unions, local authorities, qualifications, the curriculum, teacher training, pay and pensions, admissions, behaviour and much, much more. And then there are the unintended consequences. The stated aim of the Coalition, for instance, is to liberate schools from government diktat. Yet its enthusiasm to sweep away local authority powers may well end up increasing the might of Whitehall rather than enhancing the autonomy of individual schools.

The first 60 years of The TES were marked, broadly, by a consensus between politicians and the profession over the general thrust of reform and a shared belief that more education would produce a better society. In the following 30 years, politicians not only lost confidence in education's ability to provide a better tomorrow; they were also sceptical about the profession's ability to do its job. The last decade has seen a partial return to that earlier consensus: there is a general belief once again that more and better education is necessary for a good society. What is still lacking is trust in the profession to deliver it. Whether Mr Gove's reforms will induce that trust is uncertain. But it is clear that without it no reform, from either the left or the right, can succeed.


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