Former education chief criticises 'cavalier policy'

THE FORMER chief inspector of schools yesterday attacked the Government's education policy as 'cavalier in the extreme', and warned against increased political control over the curriculum.

In a speech to the north of England education conference in Blackpool, Eric Bolton, former head of Her Majesty's Inspectorate, accused the Government of destroying its own hard-won consensus over the national curriculum. He said ministers were turning the clock back towards O- levels, and ignoring the sincerely held views of teachers.

Professor Bolton, now working for the Institute of Education at London University, retired as senior chief inspector in 1992 after a lifetime reporting to ministers on the state of British schools. He has registered anxiety before over the recent direction of government policy, but yesterday's criticisms went much further.

There was a 'distinctive whiff of racial discrimination and prejudice' in the recent debate over the content of the art and music curriculum, he said. The Third Reich and Joseph Stalin's Soviet dictatorship only encouraged art which glorified their regimes. Although the situation in Britain had not yet reached that extreme, it was serious: 'dire consequences' could follow if present political interference persisted.

In the Education Bill ministers were almost exclusively concerned with encouraging schools to opt out. They were dismantling the system without offering an effective replacement, Professor Bolton said. Teachers' views were 'treated with suspicion or dismissed out of hand' by ministers, who avoided talking with anyone who might be mildly critical.

That accusation won support among those at the conference: they had already protested when John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, cancelled his address to the yearly event, traditionally the platform for a statement of government policy.

Mr Patten, who has not addressed a major education gathering since his appointment last April, is being accused of shying away from high-profile events.

Baroness Blatch, Minister of State for Education, said: 'Professor Bolton is clearly out of touch with what is really going on in education, and would appear to be firing a parting shot as a man who has lost his grip on educational reality and is now consumed by bitter recrimination.' Parallels with Nazi Germany and Communist Russia were 'offensive and patently absurd'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

£17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent