Too much control wrecking results, ministers are told

3rd January 2003 at 00:00
ENGLAND is in danger of falling down the international education league table unless ministers relax their control over schools, the Government's former chief examinations adviser will say this weekend.

Professor David Hargreaves, former head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, will say that the Government needs to emulate the approach of businesses and create a "culture of innovation" in schools.

He will argue that the initial progress in raising school standards made during the first few years after the Labour Government took office has stalled because it has so far been unwilling to free teachers from central control.

Meanwhile, countries like Japan and Germany are making greater efforts to learn from international evidence about what works in school improvement and how to promote creativity, Professor Hargreaves will tell a conference in Sydney, Australia.

"If the Government is serious about transforming schools it needs to look at the world of work and industry. We did not get high-quality industries that compete on the world stage because the Department for Trade and Industry sent down a top-down command and control message.

"We cannot just go on inventing top-down strategies for schools and hope that it all comes right," he told The TES. Professor Har-greaves will stress that it is not individual policies that are important but changing the culture in which teachers work.

And he suggests two ways for schools to innovate successfully.

They should be made aware of research showing that students' achievement improves if teachers give individual comments when marking work.

Sixth-formers should be treated more like university students. Greater use of computers would allow them to work from home for up to two days per week and be taught in smaller, tutorial-style groups.

This would free up teachers and prepare students better for university, he will argue.

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