Ministers warned over pace of schools changes

Ministers must slow down the pace of education changes and learn some hard lessons from the past five years, the head of the Government's curriculum review said yesterday.

Sir Ron Dearing, whose report on the curriculum and testing was completed yesterday and will be published next week, told delegates at the Professional Association of Teachers' conference in Egham, Surrey, that his review was 'pretty fundamental'.

He said the basic policies of the 1988 Education Reform Act were right, but the problems derived from judgements taken in implementing them. 'Its detailed working through over a period contains some hard lessons from which we must profit in the future.' He was cheered when he said: 'It is worth taking time to get things right. Again and again teachers have said to me, 'Do not rush it, take time . . . we cannot afford mistakes'. '

Sir Ron said parents must be committed to their children's education if standards were to rise. Many were, but he had been impressed by the commitment in other countries.

'What the direct observations of education overseas teach me is the strength of the commitment to education from parents which, in so many countries, is producing standards which challenge us to enhance our performance if we are to give our children the life chances to which teachers and parents are so committed.'

Brenda Wilson, association chairman, attacked plans for a 'Mums Army' to teach in schools. 'The Government's belief that parenthood is such a good preparation for life in the classroom that it just needs topping up with a little bit of training simply beggars belief,' she said.