At the heart of the education process lies the child." I have never understood why that simple phrase from the 1967 Plowden Report on primary education should be so controversial. Lady Plowden, who died a few weeks ago, aged 90, wanted balance. Children should discover for themselves as well as being told things. She believed working-class children deserved better than the dull primary schools dominated by rote learning which she and her committee visited during their three-year study.
Much of her forward-looking report can still serve teachers and governments today. It wanted "educational priority areas", so that extra resources would go to areas of social deprivation; nursery eduation available to all children over three and greater parental involvement.
Sadly, the aspect of the Plowden Report which feels most dated is its sparkling optimism and 1960s idealism. The excellent school "sets out deliberately to devise the right environment for children, to allow them to be themselves and to develop in the way and at the pace appropriate to them. It tries to equalise opportunities and to compensate for handicaps. It lays special stress on individual discovery, on first-hand experience and on opportunities for creative work."
We see this month's issue of TES Primary as our "creativity special", so let us dedicate it to the memory of Lady Plowden.