Letters extra: Woodhead and Blunkett miss the point

23rd March 2001 at 00:00

Your very limited coverage of Chris Woodhead's Telegraph "chronicles" ( TES , March 9) strikes about the right note in giving his post-Ofsted pontifications the degree of exposure they deserve.

The unedifying spectacle of Mssrs Woodhead and Blunkett locked in internecine warfare would be comical, if it weren't so tragically irrelevant to our children's future. Both men are about equally responsible for the soulless utilitarianism that has exhausted and demoralised our teachers - accurately characterised in your editorial as a profession "facing meltdown" (March 9).

Though Woodhead's intervention is cynically opportunistic, he is certainly right to condemn over-interference and hyperactive "Initiative-itis", and to champion an education which transcends functional labour-market economism.

Yet a fundamental contradiction underlies the standards question that neither Woodhead nor Blunkett has begun to address: namely, that any centralised forcing up of standards will necessarily entail bureaucratic intrusion into the professional practices of teachers. Until a humane resolution is found to this contradiction, our education system will rumble inexorably towards a veritable world class catastrophe.

Richard House

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