Forced into the personal touch

19th January 2007 at 00:00
as christmas fades to a distant memory, thoughts turn to the new term. Most will have had a severe case of dej... vu picking up the papers last week.

Good news: the Government has at last - after 10 years - figured out what's wrong with education and what to do about it.

Experts in multiple intelligences and assessment for learning should note that this year's buzz-word is "personalised" learning. As with most New Labour ideas, the headline comes before the reality, so we are not sure what it is yet. All being well, teachers will be required to personalise their teaching to suit pupils' interests.

In my daughter's case, this means her class teacher will be trying to bring Star Wars into every area of the curriculum (maths worksheets involving counting light sabres, and personal and social health education lessons based around the responsible use of The Force). Maybe I would have learnt more at school if the curriculum had been based on my interests: biscuits and holidays.

Apparently, private tutors, school caretakers and retired business people will be among those employed to tailor learning. I'm not sure what skills caretakers are supposed to teach pupils - presumably how to shout at cleaners and where the best places are to have a fag without getting caught. Anyway, I thought caretakers were meant to be taking classes for football training to cover planning and preparation time.

Schools are often loath to stream and label their pupils too early, but won't they catch on when some of them are getting lessons in tax evasion from stockbrokers on day release from open prison, while others are getting advice on the correct way to rinse out a mop?

Among other innovations is the idea that children who fall behind should get extra support. The Government's long-awaited scheme to train teachers in how to get pupils to "read and write things to improve their skills and stuff" should be with us by the summer - no doubt at the same time as official advice is issued to GPs that when people are ill they should try giving them medicine.

It is also hoped that pupils will be able to sit their exams when they are ready for them (that is, when they are capable of achieving a level that will bump up national scores). What a fantastic idea. I think I'm going to try to persuade my head that Year 6 will be ready for Sats some time in 2011.

I'm slightly confused about how this dovetails into ideas about performance-related pay being largely based on pupils' exam results.

Perhaps schools will have to employ fortune-telling consultants to work out whether pupils will get the right results in the exams that they are delaying taking so that their teacher can get this year's pay rise.

More from Henry in a fortnight

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