Problems still awaiting answers

7th July 1995 at 01:00
You report that the director of the National Commission on Education is "furious" at the Government's lack of enthusiasm for implementing its recommendations (TES, June 9). The Government's reluctance is understandable in view of the superficiality of the Commission's analysis of what is wrong in our system (basically, lack of money). Throwing good money after bad has been tried so often before that a certain scepticism is in order.

The sorry episode of the National Commission on Education illustrates a worrying development which threatens our whole national fabric, namely the tendency for all members of the professional and managerial classes to form a solid hegemony based roughly on three principles. The first is never to criticise one another in a way which might be damaging; the second is to work ceaselessly to increase the power and scope of the hegemony itself, whether right or wrong, and the third is to squeeze every last halfpenny out of the Government regardless of whether it is needed or not.

If the National Commission on Education had really been interested in analysing our predicament it would have asked itself whether the "child-centred" philosophy and the perversely unsystematic teaching methods at the heart of the system might be misconceived. But this might have cast doubts on the competence and even on the bona fides of fellow members of the professionalmanagerial class, so the commission gave such questions a wide berth.

This phenomenon has plagued the Government's efforts to reform the education system right from the start.

In the Eighties when Sir Keith Joseph and Kenneth Baker were faced with a situation which amounted to "a national catastrophe" they looked round for people able and willing to help sort things out. But, apart from Professor Anthony O'Hear, Dr John Marks and Dr John Marenbon, there has been an almost complete lack of people with the necessary moral courage in the field of higher education.

In the end Kenneth Baker and his successors were reduced to asking the very people who had created the catastrophic situation in the first place to turn gamekeeper and sort out the mess. Naturally the results have been somewhat patchy.

They are likely to remain patchy for as far as the future can be predicted. The real problems have yet to be addressed.

STEWART DEUCHAR Vice-chairman Campaign for Real Education Dean Farm Singleborough Milton Keynes

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today