Less is definitely not more

8th August 2003 at 01:00
Progress comes at a serious cost, writes Bob Aston

Education, like life, is full of paradoxes. Nowadays we have:

* better Sats scores, but more disaffected children at an ever younger age

* more and ever higher targets, but less achievement in the foundation subjects

* steadily improving standards of education in Wales, but no key stage 1 Sats

* the earliest school starting age, but the highest adult illiteracy rates

* seemingly more freedom for schools to experiment and innovate, but more pressure to conform to the target-setting agenda

* better school buildings, but fewer teachers

* many more initiatives, but more dissatisfaction

* more inclusion, but less tolerance

* more academic certificates, but not enough plumbers

* more strenuous efforts to involve parents, but more unreasonable expectations

* more sophisticated means of communication, but less understanding

* more inspection, but less education

* more behaviour strategies, but fewer well behaved children

* more promised teacher support, but less teacher satisfaction

* more advisers and consultants, but fewer experienced teachers actually teaching

* more exotic extra-curricular opportunities, but less freedom for children to roam

* more material wealth, but fewer contented children.

You may think these are cynical reactions to the painful changes necessary to achieve the holy grail of ever-rising standards. But why is it that progress can come only at the cost of a demoralised profession, a rising tide of low-level misbehaviour and even more teacher supervision?

Paraphrasing Churchill, perhaps the quest for real education is a riddle wrapped in an enigma concealed in a paradox, and there is no solution.

Philip Pullman seems to have the answer. He writes: "Teachers are not trusted to teach. They're nagged, they're controlled, they're harassed. Set them free. Trust them." (TES, April 4).

Trusted teachers? Now there's a real paradox.

Bob Aston is head of a junior school in Medway

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now