It is helpful to see a judgement on educational provision based on more than just the Government's crude testing and assessment of results. Any debate on education that concerns itself purely with academic achievement does no service to child or society, and the high praise given to schools providing assistance to pupils with special needs is most significant. These are schools whose performance under the Government's system are perceived to be less good, and who face an uncertain future as the 'opt-out' process gathers pace.
However, the diversity of opportunities offered to children in the schools featured in the series further drives home the importance of providing adequate funding for all schools. The all- round achievements of the schools in this series should be the benchmark of every school.
The diversity of provision within the system is to be welcomed. This diversity is not only in the range of the provisions supplied, but also in the way the same provisions are delivered. The implementation of the national curriculum can be the subject of new and imaginative approaches and techniques, yet all too often the funding does not exist to provide the time and materials for teachers to try out new ideas.
Furthermore, the range of provisions inevitably raises the question of selection, one of many issues, together with ways of building bridges between the state and independent sectors, being tackled by Liberal Democrats as they formulate educational policies for the future, and prepare to respond to the Government's White Paper.
Kenneth Baker said that the 'great debate' on education is now over. In reality, and despite innovation fatigue from 16 major education Bills in the past 13 years, the debate must go on.
MP for Bath (Lib Dem)
The writer is the Liberal Democrat spokesman on education.
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