'Stop meddling' Labour warned

16th April 2004 at 01:00
The Government should stop its constant meddling in schools or risk harming children's education, a leading private school headteacher has warned.

Paul Moss, chairman of the Independent Schools Association, said that extra workload and the imposition of endless changes and new regulations has resulted in too great an emphasis on managing schools rather than teaching children.

"Teachers' confidence, in private and state sectors has been shot by a succession of changes," said Mr Moss, who is head of St James Independent School for boys and girls (junior), in West Kensington, London, where fees are pound;5,700 per pupil per year.

"The profession has taken its eye off the ball after too many years of changing regulations. We're becoming managers, not teachers. But we need to put teaching of the child first and foremost.

"Children's education could be harmed if the Government persists in constantly changing things and we lose sight of this fact."

Mr Moss, who spends between 12 and 15 hours a week in the classroom, will give the opening address at the ISA's annual conference which begins next Thursday in Buxton, Derbyshire. The association's members are heads of 300 prep, senior and all-age schools.

In his speech Mr Moss is expected to say that teachers should "transcend" limitations imposed on them by the Government.

"The limitations and obstacles are well known to us all in this age of creeping regulation, change and uncertainty in all areas of education.

"No sooner have we mastered and adopted some new system, when another new idea, initiative or opinion changes it. The attics and cellars of education must, by now, be packed with discarded ideas."

He will also refer to Global Education Management Systems, the Dubai-based company which aims to become the biggest provider of private education in Britain. It has acquired three schools since September 2003.

Mr Moss said he approves of GEMS and its "no frills education", but added that ISA-affiliated schools are not threatened by its plans.

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