Free School from Government Control
This web site was set up in February 2009 to put the case for freeing schools from government control in terms of Sats, Ofsted, national curriculum and Whitehall micromanagement. It was, of course, a critique of the current policies of a Labour government. These restrictions on schools continue under the Coalition government (elected in May 2010).
However by August 2013 the situation is much more extreme. Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove is changing the governance of schools (the academy programme), the National Curriculum to make it more demanding, the syllabuses for GCSE and A-level studies to make them more demanding, and the examinations for GCSE and A-level to raise the level needed for success.
While some applaud these changes, seeing them as Government attempts to raise the standard of English education to serve the future needs of the economy, others (and particularly most teachers and academics, as well as many parents) recognise that these measures will put impossible burdens on many schools and their teachers and, in particular, will make it even harder for those children who are low achievers, to succeed.
Everyone agrees that our schools should provide the best possible education for young people in terms both of their individual destinies and of the future economic and ecological needs of the nation. But opinions differ on how this should be achieved.
The stance of this website is that while some government intervention in schools in the past has served a valuable purpose, it is now grossly counterproductive to the best interests of the young. But beyond that is the fear that Secretary of State Michael Gove, a powerful and determined right-wing conservative politician, is trying to privatise education and see schools wax or wane in response to market forces.
Educational decisions as to what is right for pupils should be determined by those who by training, experience and commitment are best qualified to decide – their teachers. The best education comes when it arises from the classroom decisions of teachers, working collegially together, with parents, governors and local communities. Likewise the best accountability is based on the local knowledge of school governors, trained for this voluntary work and supported by national guidelines.
I, the author of this website, Michael Bassey, am an emeritus professor of Education, with many years of practical and research experience of education in England. Like many people today I grieve at what is happening in our educational institutions. Here is brought together the evidence of many distinguished professionals and senior academics who share these concerns. It is a call for action by teachers’ associations, parents, like-minded politicians, and all who care about the future of our children.
This site has steadily grown over the four years since it began. My earlier concerns about SATs, Ofsted and the national curriculum are still valid as I hope are the pages devoted to a Political Charter, Accountability, Literacy test, a National Education Council, and Collegial Schools. Likewise I think the press reports from 2003 to 2012 provide supportive reading to my arguments. (I gave up recording these half through 2012 - in order to move from 'the garden of contemplation' to 'the palace of action). Recent entries have focussed on significant and worrying developments in the politics of education. They can all be found by clicking on the left hand 'navigation bar'.
The site is now being linked to a series of tweets which focus on the slogan:
TRUST TEACHERS NOT POLITICIANS
This page was last amended on 8 August 2013
CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING (or on the navigation buttons)TO FIND ARGUMENTS AND EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF THESE POINTS
- Read trustteachers-tweets and TRUST TEACHERS NOT POLITICIANS
- trustteachers-tweets is a wake-up call for parents and grandparents who have not realised how England’s secretary of state Michael Gove is endangering the future lives of our schoolchildren
- CHALLENGES-TO-GOVE educational campaigners concerned about academies, proposed reforms of primary school curriculum and assessment, GCSE, A-level and teacher training and education in general
- GOVE-AMBITIONS FOR WORLD CLASS AND TO LIBERATE FROM IGNORANCE
- Michael Gove-ambitions for world class education and his inept approach to ‘liberating our poorest children from ignorance’ will be disastrous for the nation.
- NATIONAL-EDUCATION-SERVICE Introduction
- NATIONAL-EDUCATION-SERVICE. Five essays showing how government should create a coherent education system relevant to the work-places, leisure pursuits and lives of tomorrows’ citizens
- CORROSION-OF-EDUCATION Chapter One of National Education Service Proposal
- CORROSION-OF-EDUCATION shows extensive criticisms of educational policies of governments of the last 25 years and how little notice has been taken.
- LABOUR-SHOULD-ACT Chapter Two of National Education Service Proposal
- LABOUR-SHOULD-ACT argues that the next Labour government must recast our education, every school and academy good, comprehensive and local, with power transferred from government to teachers
- EVERYONE-MUST-MASTER-ENGLISH Chapter 3 of National Education Service Proposal
- EVERYONE-MUST-MASTER-ENGLISH for their own sakes in order to enjoy the cultural wealth of the world, not just the needs of employers. A 'driving test' (pass/fail) at any age after 11 is proposed.
- PROPOSAL-FOR-A-NAT-ED-SERVICE Chapter Four
- PROPOSAL-FOR-A-NAT-ED-SERVICE sets out how this must ensure that all schools and academies are good, comprehensive, local, collegially run by teachers with local and national support but not dictat
- LOOKING-BACK-FROM-2040 Chapter Five of National Education Service Proposal
- LOOKING-BACK-FROM-2040 imagines the school experiences of someone starting school in 2015 when the Nat-Ed-System started
- Political Action: a Charter for Educational Advance
- Political action is needed to transfer power from government to schools in order to salvage education. Here is a ‘Charter for Educational Advance’ for campaigners to act on.
- Why Sats Formal Testing Should Be Abolished
- SATs inhibit children’s all-round development and should be scrapped. Teacher assessments are what matters for quality learning and to keep parents informed.
- Why Ofsted Should Be Abolished
- Ofsted seeks to raise standards but often damages schools and teachers. It should be abolished. Schools can and will improve without state bullying.
- School accountability without SATs or Ofsted
- School accountability is ineffectively assessed by SATs and by Ofsted. Better local and national ways are needed
- Why the National Curriculum Should Not Be Obligatory
- The national curriculum deskills teachers, restricting their creativity and narrowing the experience of children. Teachers in collegial schools, not government, should make curricular decisions
- Collegial Schools Will Provide the Best Education
- In collegial schools, teachers determine the curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment of pupils. They work co-operatively, involving parents and governors, to provide the best education for pupils.
- TACKLING-LITERACY-DEFICIENCY suggests stay in primary school till Level 4 reached and a pass/fail literacy Competence test (like the driving test taken as often as needed to pass) from 11 onwards
- A National Education Council is Needed
- A national body is needed when schools are free of government control, to provide a non-mandatory oversight of education. It must be independent, government funded, and report annually to Parliament.
- Government political impact on schools since 1988
- Political impact led by 11 cabinet ministers in succession has moved England’s education system from being the least state-controlled in the world in 1988 to the most.
- Politics of Secondary Education in England in 2010
- Secondary schools are in a mess. First remove government control. Second replace external tests and exams by diplomas taken at 18+. Third from 16 spend as long on community work as in-school work
- News Reports from the Education Press Show Damage to the Nation's Children
- News of concerns of teachers’ professional associations/unions, reports of academic research into school issues, opinions of distinguished educationalists and rebuffs by government spokespersons.
- Educational press-reports-2003 Central Control Damages Teaching
- ‘The concentration of educational decision-making at the centre has led to a situation where command and control dominates, and this has now reached a point where it is seriously counter-productive’
- Educational press-reports-2004. New Labour Needs to Curb Its Control Freakery
- Professional concern about the pressure on children and teachers continued to be forcefully expressed by representatives of a wide range of bodies, academic researchers and parents.
- Educational press-reports-2005 Government and Teachers in Different Universes
- This year it became increasingly clear that New Labour had little understanding of education as perceived by teachers, but a great vision of it as a political arena for catching votes.
- Educational press-reports-2006 More Money but Goalposts Moved
- There were increasing concerns about Ofsted, targets, testing, curriculum, and stress on children, teachers and heads
- Educational press-reports-2007 More Initiatives but UK Kids Unhappy
- Department Split and Ed Balls Becomes Fifth Secretary of State (All with Initiativitis) in Six Years. Pressure on SATs Growing. Concerns about Children’s Lives and their Happiness
- Educational press-reports-2008 Cambridge Review highly critical of government
- Narrowing of the curriculum and the intensity of test preparation has resulted in a decline in the quality of primary education. More concerns about Ofsted and stress on children, teachers and heads.
- Educational press-reports-2009 Jan-Jun Trusting teachers still not on agenda
- SATs, Ofsted and the national curriculum continue to bedevil the school experience of the nation’s children, as do ministerial attempts to micromanage the education system – but concerns bubble
- Educational press-reports-2009-Jul-Dec: Watch this space
- Press-reports-2009-Jul-Dec PM: I want to free teachers to work small miracles. TES editor: Why should teachers trust either party to let them do their job? And more ...
- Educational press-reports-2010-Jan-May Classroom is No Place for Politicians
- The next few months will influence education policy for a decade. LibDems offer an Education Freedom Act. Tories will rewrite the curriculum. Schools will boycott Sats. What next?
- Educational press-reports-2010-Jun-Dec: GOVErnment
- It may seem pernickety for a website called free-school-from-government-control to challenge a government that offers some schools some freedoms, but read what educationalists are saying.
- Educational press-reports-2011: more sadness than hope
- No news? The truth is that I have been too dispirited to enter up the gloomy reports of what the Coalition government has been doing during recent months. Now I've written press-reports-2011.
- Educational press-reports-2012: concerns about government
- Press-reports-2012 raise the question: are schools heading for privatisation? Major concerns expressed by union general secretaries and educational journalists.
- BACCALAUREATE-WORRIES-1 "The English Baccalaureate: A Perfect Storm Ahead" an essay by Prof Michael Bassey (6 December 2012) suggesting a hidden agenda for the privatisation of schools.
- AN ALTERNATIVE TO ‘PERFORMATIVE GOAL-ORIENTED’ EDUCATION
- A new book suggests an alternative for primary schools to the ‘performative goal-oriented’ approach demanded by government. It argues for teachers and children to work collaboratively.
- Commons-debate-on-baccalaureate: Bassey’s critique
- A report and critical commentary on the Parliamentary debate of 16 January 2013. Sadly based on much unchallenged opinion rather than professional evidence.
- Labour-education-2015: Coherent Planning Needed Now
- Labour-education-2015. National Education Service - a one-nation development. In May 2015 three Commissions (primary, secondary, tertiary). Proposals by April 2017. Ballot teachers for agreement
- Wake-Up-Parents: parents are urged to give voice to some of the listed concerns about the education of their children by writing to MPs
- What Is Education and What Does It Entail?
- In any discussion about education, schools and teachers it is helpful to set out what one understands by these terms. These are my descriptions with a note of the watershed at age 11.
- PERFECT-STORM-brewing: 14 ‘squalls’ since May 2012 are cited showing how many organisations have grave concerns over Government education policies.