Taking exception to 'extreme'

26th March 2010 at 00:00

Professor Pam Sammons and her co-signatories (Letters, March 12) claim that I am "extreme" and "dangerous" in pointing out that the New Labour emperor is completely naked.

The true value of their scientific research into performance-enhancing gimmicks is perhaps revealed by their claim that my book says policymakers and practitioners are powerless. In fact, I argue the opposite - and they don't know what I've said because the book is still at the printers.

They confuse the names of the authorities they cite and disagree with every serious commentator in claiming that education helps overcome social disadvantage. As disadvantage has grown worse, how can education be producing an improvement?

The problem for effectiveness junkies is their dependence on test and examination results to "prove" that their contradictory recipes (inspirational leadership and lots of Ofsted) work. Unfortunately, constant changes in syllabuses and assessment methods have combined with grade inflation to produce a data stream that is utterly unreliable.

I agree with Professor Sammons that the "research community has a duty to ensure that research evidence is treated seriously and to avoid sensationalism". They might begin by reading my book before attacking it and avoiding smear words like "extreme" and "dangerous".

Bernard Barker, Emeritus professor of educational leadership and management, School of Education, Leicester University.

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