No child should be left behind

In education, the slogan should be: innovation, innovation, innovation

Related Topics

This newspaper supports diversity in schools. We want many more different kinds of school, experimenting with different approaches to education, because the typical education on offer in this country does not allow many pupils to reach their potential. The typical primary school, with its early start on formal reading and writing, is not suited to some children, especially boys. The average secondary school, with nearly 1,000 pupils and an emphasis on traditional academic exams, does not get the best out of a large minority.

For that reason, The Independent on Sunday is cautiously supportive of free schools. In particular, we celebrated the opening this year of a secondary school dedicated to autistic children; a technical school linked to the motor racing industry at Silverstone; a school specialising in the creative arts associated with Elstree film studios; a non-denominational secondary school in Oldham, where existing schools are divided on racial and religious lines; and new units for pupils who have been excluded from conventional schools.

That is also why we support diversity of provision in further and higher education too. We report today on the popularity of new night-school degrees at Birkbeck, University of London, which allow students to work full time rather than to take a traditional three-year course away from home. In education, the slogan should be: innovation, innovation, innovation.

So far, we agree with Dominic Cummings, Michael Gove's departing special adviser, whose erudite and complex views on education were leaked yesterday. He thinks English schools are not as good as they could be, that they have failed to innovate or to think ambitiously enough about the teaching of maths and science in particular.

So far, however, but no further. The guiding principle has to be that we want diversity of educational approaches, to give everyone the best chance of finding the right kind of education for them. That means no child should be written off; no child should be regarded as unteachable. There are only children for whom the right way of making the best of their talents has not yet been found. That means, for example, that we share the doubts about the Al-Madinah free school in Derby, if girls were required to sit behind boys, which the acting principal disputes.

And it means that we find Mr Cummings's views on the heritability of school performance worrying. In his long paper "Some Thoughts on Education and Political Priorities", he suggests that 40-60 per cent of performance in exams can be explained by inherited ability, rising to 70 per cent for maths. These are deep waters. All we will say is that, if Mr Cummings wants to run a free school, as has been reported, he should consider his suitability for such a venture if he thinks that schooling has so small a part to play in exam performance.

It is not clear why Mr Cummings is leaving the Department for Education, but we wonder if Michael Gove, the Secretary of State, has realised that there is a contradiction between his special adviser's views on genetics and his own belief that there should be no excuses for teachers to expect anything but the best of any pupil.

If that is the cause of Mr Cummings's departure, we are bound to say that we are glad he is going, and that we hope Mr Gove will live up to his promise that no child should be left behind.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam