No child should be left behind

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

Share
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

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron visiting a primary school last year  

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
Zoë Ball says having her two children was the best thing ever to happen to her  

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn