International evidence points the other way

23rd November 2012 at 00:00

Make no mistake, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has told Michael Gove that his education policies are failing ("You must emulate and innovate to keep pace", Comment, 16 November). This is seismic, for it is OECD evidence that Gove consistently cites to shoehorn in his reforms.

The force of Andreas Schleicher's article rests not so much in his comment that England's flat performance is a result of deficiencies that are the equivalent of a permanent recession as in his proposals for change. His emphasis on creative thinking, problem-solving, formative assessment and creating a teaching profession of autonomous, high-level knowledge workers is a million miles from the government's current strategy of balkanising the education system, ignoring the teaching profession's professional needs and returning to traditional exams.

Courtesy probably prevented Mr Schleicher from being even sharper. The OECD is clear that at the heart of every outstanding education system are teacher policies that have been created in partnership with the profession and that education reforms will never be embedded without teachers' involvement.

Despite Gove's reforming international zeal, Mr Schleicher exposes him as a Little Englander. The lesson is there. Until the government performs the mother of all U-turns and truly learns its lessons from international evidence, England will never achieve an outstanding education system.

John Bangs, Chair, Education, Employment and Training Working Group, Trade Union Advisory Committee, OECD.

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