Read before you write, gentlemen

16th April 2010 at 01:00

Had Trevor Averre-Beeson or Dave Hill read what the professors wrote with care, they would not have written as they did (Letters, April 9). The former believes it to be "naive" that schooling should be depoliticised. Schooling, as one assumes he knows, means "the action of teaching" (Oxford English Dictionary). Mr Averre-Beeson may believe it appropriate for a government to micromanage what happens in individual classrooms, but the arguments to the contrary deserve serious consideration, not impertinent rejection.

Mr Hill thinks it "ludicrous" that the professors should argue that "education should be depoliticised". It might have been had they suggested that - but they didn't.

The letter from the professors makes important points about the governance of education. On the role of Parliament in education, they argue that "it should, as now, control its overall systems and structures" and note that "on these national issues political parties may differ". They then add that "parliamentary debate should precede government action". These words are crucial.

Such debate rarely happens. Without parliamentary scrutiny there is no effective means of influencing, before they occur, the sudden ministerially driven upheavals to which schools have become accustomed.

Sir Peter Newsam, Former chief schools adjudicator, Thornton-le-Dale, North Yorkshire.

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