Trust in front line for policy creation

22nd April 2005 at 01:00
They have been offended by descriptions of "bog-standard comprehensives" and puzzled over "personalised learning".

Now teachers can get their own back, with the formation of a think tank designed to put the educational agenda back into the hands of front-line staff.

The Specialist Schools Trust plans to use its contacts in schools across the country to recruit heads and teachers with bright ideas.

Selected teaching staff will work in committees examining aspects of educational policy, and the trust hopes to publish their conclusions as pamphlets.

David Hargreaves, director of development and research at the trust, said:

"We need to be engaging more and more working teachers early in policy development. Education policy pamphlets have never been written by a teacher." He said the trust could establish the think tank in a matter of months.

Peter Hyman, the Downing Street speechwriter who coined the phrase "bog-standard comprehensive", has travelled in the opposite direction, from policy wonk to classroom assistant.

He said: "The more front-line staff are listened to, the better. The problem with some of the stuff from politicians is, it's a bit elevated, and teachers think, 'will it work in the classroom?'

"I don't think the Government should be coming up with ideas for the sake of it. The ideas that teachers are coming up with on the front line should be spread. But teachers might argue that they don't have much time to write pamphlets when they're in the classroom all the time."

Ideas such as specialist schools and academies, parental choice and education vouchers have all been promoted by think tanks before being taken up by the political parties.

Phil Collins, director of the Social Market Foundation, said he welcomed the competition.

"The conversation between policy makers and teachers would be hugely enhanced by an organisation like this. A lot of the time teachers complain that policy just rains down upon them," he said.

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