Letter: Education in crisis

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In response to the serious crisis that has engulfed education for the past 20 years New Labour has presented its Green Paper. We note that the consultation process is carefully controlled in order to minimise criticism. (Our local consultation takes place in Shipley, a neighbouring county). Participants are selected via LEA's, thus limiting, not broadening a vital debate.

This is not a document written by educationalists, teachers, or parents with any commitment to childhood development within a gentle and stress- free atmosphere.

There is a terrible crisis within education. It is a crisis borne out of government experiments, bureaucracy, vindictiveness against workers in education, and chronic underfunding at the behest of the so-called market economy.

The Green Paper is yet another experiment in madness. The prescription in this case seems to be to increase the pressure on both pupils and teachers by offering some sort of super nova status to a few suits, more unnecessary work for the many and, probably the most reprehensible idea concocted for schools in the recent past, the introduction of performance-related pay. All this in the name of an ill-defined, abstract concept called "Standards." No wonder there is bitterness by those of us in education who understand only too clearly the divisiveness this measure will bring.

We are looking for changes in education. Changes that do not include chronic underfunding, league tables, delegated funding, target setting, testing, Ofstedding, a rigid curriculum and all the other barriers that successive governments have used to turn schools into pressure cookers, not places of learning and discovery.

Governments have failed our children, and New Labour was not given a mandate to continue with old, failed measures, wrapped in green paper.

BARRY CONWAY

Bolton, Greater Manchester

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