They who give the orders take the flak

28th June 1996 at 01:00
I hear from the radio that the Government is to dictate the skills new teachers will be trained in, and hence the way that they will teach. This move is to be applauded - leadership from the front at last. For too long the Government and its advisers have sniped at teachers. There is however a price to pay for such daring.

Contrary to popular belief, all changes to education were started not through fashion, but because the system of the day was failing the children. Many of the Government's close advisers were responsible for advocating and implementing the very trends that seem to be in disrepute. When this new venture fails, the Government must take full responsibility and not blame the teachers.

When things go wrong, high-ranking heads in the Civil Service must be seen to roll and a public apology made to all concerned.

The changes should be possible, sustainable and adequately resourced.

The reforms proposed must be right first time. The Education Reform Act has been a nightmare to manage, with change after change after change. There must be no more botch-ups this time, such as "it takes time to bed new systems down," and pathetic excuses of this ilk. For too long, we have had educational management that takes no responsibility for its actions. As in the past, a lot of people are going to earn good money from this venture, so things must be right first time. When the new system is introduced, a 10-year moratorium on change to prove it one way or another seems reasonable.

The changes must have the backing of all parties in the House of Commons, or we risk changes every five years with the political party of the day blaming its predecessor. This would be good for politicians, but a disaster for education. To an observer, politics is the root cause of the dissatisfaction felt by many in this country. Political manoeuvring seems to be more about destroying than building. All party consensus must be the way forward, not the current trend of scoring cheap political points. How about a free vote in the House to be secured by 80 per cent in agreement? This would be consensus.

Finally, the Education and Employment Secretary may have the glory if the changes work.

I would like Mrs Shephard's public assurance that these conditions will be met before the launch of yet another educational crusade.

KEN HEDLEY Lamplugh School KirklandFrizington Cumbria

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