Innovative heads are confiding that at last they can shout about their schools' exciting work without believing they will get into trouble. People in schools are finally leaving behind the fear that has hampered them for the past decade. It is all part of a virtuous circle. Is this happening because the Government is easing up, because officials and ministers have begun to encourage innovation? Or is it the other way round? The Government has had to follow the zeitgeist, or simply be ignored? Or a bit of both?
The primary strategy, published last week, made serious concessions on testing at seven and targets at 11, but in many ways it supports the status quo. Changes such as lighter-touch tests for seven-year-olds, key stage 2 targets set by schools, more support for foundation subjects and assessment for learning will help schools to improve their teaching of the full national curriculum. But it will not please the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which said a far more radical rethink was needed. In the longer term, it is certainly right. But what teachers probably need now is a time for consolidation; a chance for rethinking within the current framework, but without major change from the centre.
One way to start changing your practice is to set your own targets. Here are a few ideas from Mary Jane Drummond and Colleen McLaughlin, of Cambridge's faculty of education: Key stage 1 Touch an elephant; climb a high hill; separate an egg; perform with professional musicians; use a microscope; comfort a friend; publish a book; exhibit a paintingmodel; investigate a human skeleton; handle an artefact or fossil 100, 1,000, or 1,000,000 years old; organise a school museum.
Key stage 2 Devise a forgery; join in a local campaign; use a timetable to plan a journey, and encounter a mythical beast.
SET YOUR OWN TARGETS AND WIN
ENTER the TES Set Your Own Targets competition and you could be one of five winners of a week's Arvon writing course or a fine art course at West Dean College in West Sussex. Send in your ideal targets by June 6 in 200 words or less by visiting www.tes.co.uk. Twenty runners-up will win art packs for their schools from Hope Education.