Leading article: Fads, and a sense of failure

Share
Related Topics

Previous instalments of the epic Primary Review into the condition of Britain's primary schools have evaluated areas such as the prevalence of testing, the burden of the national curriculum and standards. The latest reports, published today, turn their attention to those individuals charged with delivering the actual education service in our primary schools: teachers.

In line with previous instalments, the conclusions are somewhat less than heartening. One report argues that the National Curriculum and the twin National Literacy and National Numeracy strategies have "decreased teacher autonomy". It reports the complaints of teachers that they feel "de-professionalised" and "deskilled". Head teachers cannot be "hands on" because of the expansion of "management, marketing and financial responsibilities". It ascribes this to the Government's pushing of "fad" theories of heads needing to "turn around" schools, in the same way that executives "turn around" businesses. Another report concludes that the "increased prescription and control" of primary schools has impeded the ability of teachers to develop the necessary skills to be effective.

In fairness, the picture painted is not entirely bleak. The reports also find that new teachers are more likely to be positive about their job than they were a decade ago. And primary school teachers are pleased with some central reforms of recent years, such as the mandating of greater planning and preparation time, and an increase in the use of classroom assistants. Perhaps most encouraging of all is the conclusion that not all teachers have succumbed to Government attempts to micromanage their work.

Yet, as a whole, these latest verdicts are hardly something from which ministers can draw a good deal of pride. A Government which came to power promising that its three main priorities in office would be "education, education, education" would have wanted a rather more positive final report; so would most parents and taxpayers.

So what is to be done? An end to attempts to micromanage teachers' lives is clearly needed. One report recommends "a slower, more deliberative context of policy development" from the Department for Education and argues that "the relation of research to policy and practice needs to be linked more systematically and enduringly to deep issues concerning learning and motivation, rather than tied to the evaluation of ephemeral initiatives".

In non-academic speak, this means that ministers need to concentrate on reforms that will genuinely improve the performance of our primary schools, rather than what might grab a few positive headlines in the next day's newspapers. We agree entirely.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee