Return of the Victorians

18th November 2005 at 00:00
I'm sure there's a place for entrepreneurial risk-takers such as Dr Chris Gerry ("He's with the brand", TES, October 28 ), I'm just not sure that it is in charge of a couple of thousand human guinea pigs in the south Maidstone area.

Frankly, I find his thesis that Tesco offers a fitting template for the education of children in the 21st century to be one straight from the chiller. The fact that "Dr Gerry never really expected the idea to get off the ground", yet managed to find in Kent's education authority a willing taker for his particular brand of snake oil, surprises me little. Kent is so desperate to plug the gaps in headteacher recruitment it would back a pig-in-a-poke if it heard that bacon was the next big idea.

Forty years after the 11-plus was swept away in the rest of the country, here in the Deep South educational separatism still stifles genuine innovative thinking and drives the market.

Dr Gerry says that "20 to 30 children in a room with a single teacher was the system invented in the 19th century". In fact, 20 to 30 was in reality merely a teacher's pipe-dream from the late 20th century. It's his idea of 60 to a class, where the idea is to "use a teacher if you can, but every adult does not have to be a teacher" that truly belongs in the 19th century. It is the Victorian monitorial system, nothing more; the fact the "tablets" are computerised is neither here nor there.

The depressing thing is that, here in selective Kent, the 21st-century consumers of Dr Gerry's Value Brand will come from the same social class as the recipients of the Victorian original.

Doug Macari

39 Heath Road

Langley

Maidstone, Kent

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