US education tells us what (not) to do

30th March 2012 at 01:00

A year ago, I was fortunate to enjoy a teacher exchange week in Washington, D.C. Sharing ideas and good practice with educators in other countries is a worthy ideal. The trip was fascinating.

Teachers were absolutely tied to results-driven teaching. Performance-related pay, public scrutiny of individual teachers' results, teacher rankings and dismissals, alongside relentless target-setting, were the norm.

Each learning centre I visited was different. Security guards, metal detectors and leaders with a military air fronted grandly named academies. We were shown the best performing schools. These tended to be privately funded, selective and situated in more affluent areas. There was no national curriculum.

Finding special educational needs students was a challenge. They were either accommodated by private firms (often in state buildings), or given a room or wing in a school, or sent to specialist provision. There was no Department for Education. All states managed their own provision, and schools and academies largely managed themselves.

Although uneasy that we seem to blindly follow all things American on foreign policy, I rest assured that we are so much wiser on educational policy.

Simon Birch, Timperley, Altrincham.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now