Hoping for end to control freakery

26th September 2003 at 01:00
The article on the thoughts of the Department for Education and Skills's Kevan Collins, director of the new primary strategy, made fascinating reading (TES, September 5). It contained all sorts of things you hoped were true but part of your brain told you that perhaps the Government was now producing science fiction.

To be told that schools were to decide how they taught within a "broad and exciting curriculum"; that discrete learning lessons were no longer to be de rigueur and that there will not be "detailed advice on how to teach every subject" is redolent of the sort of belief that got Galileo into trouble so many years ago.

If these thoughts are now to be DfES thinking then they must be welcomed.

That they echo the pleadings of true educationalists over the past 15 years or more is ironic as successive governments have sought to prescribe and codify the curriculum in a format that sometimes rivals the Napoleonic code in its rigidity. The results, as we all know, have produced some improvements but have also given us the most tested generation of children in Europe, many of whom are being switched off the educative process because of the excessive targettest driven system of education they experience.

I truly hope Dr Collins is indeed a "prophet in his own land" and that his message is heeded. I have an awful fear, however, that a government whose whole ethos is founded on keeping an iron grip on everything it does will find it hugely difficult to let go and trust teachers to teach. It would require huge courage and vision to do this and events currently being explored in Whitehall have not shown these qualities to be in abundance. We can but hope.

Tony Roberts

144 Cop Lane



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