Education reform - a new rationale

11th January 2013 at 00:00

Schools, their teachers and the entire education system are once again under the microscope. Decisions about the future of education are believed by many to rest firmly with governments. The direction of reform and the right to scrutinise the service, looking at its effectiveness and its value for money, are thought to be theirs to command. But, crucially, does this arrangement correspond with the best interests of individuals or of society in the global future that beckons?

Latest reforms are being rolled out in the absence of open and wide-ranging debate. Times are changing and young people need us to question the suitability of the proposed reforms and the way they are being conducted. Opportunities for young people to engage with the future and to live fulfilling lives depend on what we do next. The prevailing, negatively charged, politicalprofessional stand-off is damaging to their chances. The future of our democracy ultimately depends on the capacity of each citizen to engage in society in new and more challenging ways.

A comprehensive review of decision-making in education is long overdue. The current stand-off reveals the bankruptcy of existing procedures. Opportunities for all stakeholders to influence policy need redefining. Politicians of all parties are invited to support the establishment of a small national commission. Its task would be to draw up a proposal outlining how the responsibility for the direction of national policy for education may be decoupled from the machinery of party politics.

John Mountford, Longvernal Primary School, Midsomer Norton.

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