Government's Education Policy Is Self-Defeating, Academics Warn
Richard Garner Education Editor, The Independent (London, England)
The drive to reform Britain's education system, with frequent shifts in policy and the added burden of targets, is self-defeating and "working against the Government's own intentions", leading academics have warned ministers.
In a letter to today's Independent, four leading educationalists write: "We have come independently to the same conclusion, namely that government policy is no longer the solution to the difficulties we face but our greatest problem."
The four are Frank Coffield and Stephen Ball, both professors at the University of London's Institute of Education, Professor Richard Taylor, director of continuing education and lifelong learning at Cambridge University, and Professor Sir Peter Scott, the vice- chancellor of Kingston University in Surrey.
They cite examples such as offering pupils greater choice of schools - a move which has seen middle-class parents competing to get their children into better-performing schools, thereby increasing the attainment divide between these schools those in disadvantaged areas.
In addition, the academics argue, the academies programme has seen the new flagship schools excluding unruly pupils, who then have to be taken in by neighbouring schools. This also widens the attainment gap at a time when improving standards in poor areas is hailed by ministers as a top priority.
Further education colleges were set 86 improvement targets - but reacted by hiring policy advisers to read through the documents to outline targets that can be met, rather than employing more teachers, the professors state. …