Letter: An education for our time

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The Independent Online
Sir: I can see no justification for the claim by Howard Davies that the national curriculum has largely been a success ('When will they ever learn?', 18 January). In his next sentence he says: 'Most schools and colleges welcome the control they have been given over their own affairs.' The national curriculum is widely criticised for being over-prescriptive: teachers now have less freedom to decide how they teach. Meanwhile, large numbers of schools are bracing themselves for next year's budget cut. Is that autonomy?

Mr Davies writes as a senior industrialist and it is understandable that he sees education in terms of developing skills for jobs. But schools have a wider brief than that. What kind of education should be offered to those who face a life of under- or unemployment? What kind of education do we need to meet the growing social problems of a society changing too rapidly for traditional structures to hold? How many of today's job skills will be appropriate in 15 years' time, I wonder - when current school-leavers will be scarcely in their thirties?

Educational re-forming is a continuing need, not a once-and-for- all decision, whatever government rhetoric may imply. Mr Davies does not help schools to meet the needs of industry by propagating a simplistic picture of how we might educate the next generation.

Yours faithfully,


Shipley, West Yorkshire