Hargreaves' harangue

18th June 2004 at 01:00
England's schools system damages young people's ability to learn later in life, one of Britain's leading educational thinkers has said.

David Hargreaves, former head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, writes in a new book - Learning for Life: the foundations for lifelong learning that "lifelong learning seems to have little, if anything, to do with school education".

In an attack on government policies, Professor Hargreaves argues:

* The current assessment system, which emphasises national curriculum levels and the importance of GCSE grades A-star to C, puts many people off learning at a young age.

* Exams and tests over-emphasise knowledge-retention rather than generic skills such as problem-solving, thinking and communication, which are useful later in life.

* Investment in computers is judged by ministers according to its impact on pupil results rather than its ability to motivate youngsters.

* The curriculum is organised into separate subjects because this suits teachers, not pupils.

* Attempts to promote innovation in schools have been hampered by the Government's emphasis on exam results, lack of trust of teachers and ministers' need to be associated with every good idea developed by the profession.

Professor Hargreaves, who as QCA chief executive oversaw national strategies and tests for 7, 11 and 14-year-olds, also maintains that the literacy strategy may be damaging pupils' interest in reading.

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