Thursday, May 31, 2007

Political Education

Meet the wife
What on earth makes politicians think they can manage our education system?

Yes, I realise that's a pretty dumb question, but here we are again in the middle of a political firestorm over something politicians know no more about than you or I.

For future reference, Graham Brady's Telegraph article on grammar schools and social mobility is outstanding (and we agree 100% when he says that "academies would be more likely to show the improvements that we want if they were given genuine freedom from political control, including the freedom to decide their admissions policies").

But all that stuff about synthetic phonics, grammar school streaming, whole class teaching... it's the same old top-down one size world of Whitehall knows best.

And if there's one thing we've surely all learned by now, it's that Whitehall most assuredly does not know best.

If you have the slightest sub-molecule of doubt about that, you should spend a few minutes leafing through the latest DfES Annual Report, as I've just done (you may need a stiff drink).

Here are some gems from within its 176 pages:

"There is strong evidence that good parenting is good for children".

That may be news to the DfES, but the rest of us found out sometime around 26,000 BC.

"The White Paper set out the Government’s aim to achieve a world class education system, in which every school is a good school and every pupil is achieving. The reforms included fully engaging parents in their child’s learning."

Just like that huh? Given that a major problem with the real problem kids is precisely that parents are not "fully engaged"- or even slightly engaged- our politicos are solving the problem by engaging them. Brilliant. Why did no one think of that before?

"The Secretary of State commissioned a group of independent experts to report on personalised teaching and learning. The group, which was chaired by Christine Gilbert, then Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets and now Ofsted Chief Inspector, published its report 2020 Vision in January 2007. The report makes powerful arguments for taking a structured and responsive approach to each child’s and young person’s learning, in order that all are able to progress, achieve and participate."

A couple of points spring to mind. First, using the Tyler opposites test, who ever thought it was a good idea to take an unstructured and unresponsive approach to each child's learning? Apart, that is, from the last lot of education commissars.

Second, who Christine Gilbert? Ah yes, we remember now. She's the totally apolitical wife of hopeless Home Office Minister Tony McNulty. Politico and bureaucrat of one flesh.

Etc etc.

Oh, if only.

If only Willetts could follow through the logic behind his notorious grammar schools speech (see this blog). If only he could give real, cheque-backed, school choice to all parents. If only he could sweep from his mind any thought of administering school admissions policy from Whitehall.

If only there was Another Way, a way not driven by the destructive gamesmanship of Westminster electoral politics.

If only pigs could fly.
PS I'm currently reading Chris Woodhead's Class War, and will extract some of the more startling snippets for BOM.

No comments:

Post a Comment