Hitting out at targets

22nd September 2006 at 01:00
It is, paradoxically, encouraging and depressing in about equal measure that you highlight the targeting issue once again ("Do education targets work?", TES, September 1). Patrick Diamond makes a valiant attempt to make the best of an appalling hand, yet he fails to address most of Anastasia de Waal's cogent challenges to the targeting ideology.

Ms De Waal's analysis strongly suggests that crude targeting agendas commonly bring about the very opposite of their original intention, with stultifyingly narrow statistical indicators now beginning to stall and deteriorate, and with the very mentality (narrow, utilitarian, soulless, anxiety-saturatedI) which has been imposed upon the system in order to "deliver" the targets and "drive up" standards having systematically compromised much that was of real value .

What is most dispiriting of all is that it is the political right which is making the running on the noxious targeting ideology - with Ms De Waal's intervention, and the Conservatives' recent interim policy report, The Wellbeing of the Nation, sensibly promising to dismantle the overweeningly centralised "target culture".

This is a key issue on which progressive people of right, left and centre can unite and debate.

Dr Richard House

Senior lecturer in psychotherapy and counselling Roehampton university, London

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