The quiet revolution is starting

27th January 2006 at 00:00
The Daily Mail view of education, not of course confined to the Daily Mail, received a welcome jolt on Tuesday. The seventh Raising Achievement conference run by North Lanarkshire Council (pages 1 and 3) was a fine occasion in which real teachers and real bureaucrats confounded the conventional wisdom that they preside over a culture of complacency and failure in schools. The notion that the profession has no idea how to raise standards, and even less interest, could not have been wider of the mark.

Instead of dabbling with structures and instant solutions, here was evidence of a profession seriously engaged in the business of providing new opportunities for pupils, and raising standards in the process. The answers will not be the same for everyone but, probably for the first time in the 40 years of The TESS, schools are being encouraged to come up with their own answers - in essence to think for themselves. Peter Peacock, the Education Minister, even wants them to boldly go where no schools have gone before.

Of course, there are tensions, and the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Schools still need convincing, despite the reassurances from the head of the inspectorate last week (page 4), that exposing pupils to life-enhancing and character-forming experiences, possibly at the expense of exam grades, will be treated positively, not negatively. But, on the evidence of this week's gathering in North Lanarkshire, some significant changes are taking place, whether in the form of "enhanced comprehensives"

or the reforms in schools such as St Modan's High. This is, indeed, nothing less than a revolution, albeit a quiet one, which will hopefully make a lasting rather than an ephemeral impact.

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