This web site was started in February 2009 to put the case for freeing schools from government control in terms of Sats, Ofsted, national curriculum and Whitehall micromanagement.

The stance 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. See ABOLISH. (on navigation bar at the left).  

The ambitions of the site are set out in the CHARTER.  If you read nothing else, please read this!

The word "free" in the website address is a verb not an adjective! This site is not about the present government's development of so called "free schools".  

The website started as a critique of the policies of the Labour government in 2009. Since then the Coalition government elected in 2010, followed by the Conservative government elected in 2015, with Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Education and his successor Nicky Morgan, have made the control of our education system much tighter.

Michael Gove radically changed 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 also more demanding, and the examinations for GCSE and A-level to raise the level needed for success - among other changes.  See POLITICS.

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 put increasing burdens on many schools, children and teachers and, in particular, will make it even harder for the children who are low achievers, to succeed.  See CHALLENGES

Everyone agrees that our schools should provide the best possible education for young people in terms both of their individual destinies and the future needs of the nation. See EDUCATION.  But opinions differ on what is 'best' and how this should be achieved. Many politicians have a much more mechanistic view than parents and teachers and see only test and examination results as the measures of success of a school. 

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. See PROPOSALS.  The best education comes when it arises from the classroom decisions of teachers, working collegially together, with parents, governors and local communities, and responding to a national framework of educational expectation 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 and several of my essays. 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 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.  

Recent entries have focussed on significant and worrying developments in the politics of education. See POLITICS.

But perhaps the greatest concern should be that our politicians see schools as preparing for a future based on the economic conditions of today and fail to recognise that when today's school pupils are in the prime of their lives, the Earth will be warmer and in consequence extensive droughts and violent storms will play havoc across the world.  See FUTURES.  Schools need to be preparing their pupils for resilience, mutual support and living off the local land.  See EDUC[ATION]: GLOBAL WARMING

Many of the earlier pages on this site are now archived, but can be accessed through clicking on the lists below.

This page was last amended on 13 November 2015 


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.
Political Action: a Charter for Educational Advance
A charter 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.
CORROSION-OF-EDUCATION shows extensive criticisms of educational policies of governments of the last 25 years and how little notice has been taken.
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
PERFECT-STORM-brewing: 14 ‘squalls’ since May 2012 are cited showing how many organisations have grave concerns over Government education policies.
Archived: CHALLENGES-TO-GOVE educational campaigners concerned about academies, proposed reforms of primary school curriculum and assessment, GCSE, A-level and teacher training
Challenge-of-the-Blob a short essay accepting the Blob as an education force for good explains what it stands for and asks why Michael Gove is a virtual dictator in a democracy.
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.
Make national-curriculum optional and free teachers from its shackles
The national-curriculum deskills teachers, restricting their creativity and narrowing the experience of children. Teachers in collegial schools, not government, should make curricular decisions
Ofsted-goodbye. Ofsted claims that its inspections raise standards in schools. This is doubtful. It is teachers, pupils, parents and local community that can steadily improve education.
School accountability without SATs or Ofsted
School accountability is ineffectively assessed by SATs and by Ofsted. Better local and national ways are needed
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
A National-Education-Council should determine national education policy. Not here-today-gone-tomorrow ministers but a Council of professional experts who advise Parliament
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
Collegial Primary Schools Will Provide the Best Education
In collegial primary chools, teachers determine curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment of pupils. They work co-operatively, involving parents and governors, to provide the best education for pupils.
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.
LOOKING-BACK-FROM-2040: an imaginative essay
LOOKING-BACK-FROM-2040 imagines the school experiences of someone starting school in 2015 when the Nat-Ed-System started
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.
EDUCATION-GLOBAL-WARMING: today’s five-year-olds in 2050. What of their world? Household robots? Holidays on Mars? Or rising sea levels, mass migrations, disrupted agriculture, heat deaths?
Evidence-to-Select-Committee on Purpose of Education
This was my Evidence-to-Select-Committee on Purpose of Education in December 2015
Archived: 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
Why Ofsted Should Be Abolished
Archived: Ofsted seeks to raise standards but often damages schools and teachers. It should be abolished. Schools can and will improve without state bullying.
News Reports from the Education Press Show Damage to the Nation's Children
Archived:News of concerns of teachers’ professional associations/unions, reports of academic research into school issues, opinions of distinguished educationalists and rebuffs by government
Educational press-reports-2011: more sadness than hope
ARCHIVED 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.
Archived: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.
LABOUR-SHOULD-ACT Chapter Two of National Education Service Proposal
Archived: 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
Commons-debate-on-baccalaureate: Bassey’s critique
ARCHIVED: report and critical commentary on the Parliamentary debate of 16 January 2013. Sadly based on much unchallenged opinion rather than professional evidence.
Education Policies: Labour and NUT
Archived: Labour's education policies to date (March 2015) are too timid and ignore pressing issues. If NUT proposals were added it would be an impressive list.
Archive This essay 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
Gove-beliefs: Bassey's analysis and critique
Gove has a dangerous trait: everyone to respond to circumstances as he has. Failure simply a challenge, exams best form of assessing, schools must overcome environments, high brow culture for all.
Educational press-reports-2003 Central Control Damages Teaching
Archived: ‘The concentration of educational decision-making 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
Archived: Professional concern - 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
Archived: Department Split and Ed Balls Becomes Fifth Secretary of State (All with Initiativitis) in Six Years. Concerns about Children’s Lives and their Happiness
Educational press-reports-2008 Cambridge Review highly critical of government
Archived: Narrowing the curriculum and intensity of test preparation has resulted in decline in quality of primary education. More concerns about Ofsted and stress on children, teachers and heads.
Educational press-reports-2009-Jul-Dec: Watch this space
Archived 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-2009 Jan-Jun Trusting teachers still not on agenda
Archived: SATs, Ofsted and national curriculum continue to bedevil school experience of nation’s children, as do ministerial attempts to micromanage the education system – but concerns bubble
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-2012: concerns about government
ARCHIVED Press-reports-2012 raise the question: are schools heading for privatisation? Major concerns expressed by union general secs and educational journalists.
Definition of "coasting" schools
Critique of government's account of "coasting" schools, with an alternative suggestion
Blog KS2 Grammar
The grammatical terms required in KS2 testing are of no obvious use in promoting reading or writing
The workload of teachers is excessive and associated with a misplaced belief in accountancy
Schools-crisis: what Labour could do
Ten issues in the schools-crisis are identified and for each a suggestion is made as to what the next Labour government should o.
Critique of academy-white-paper
The Government intends (in this academy-white-paper) to make every school in England an academy, taking oversight and support away from local authorities. Disaster!
Education: filling pots or lighting fires?
Ten points of crisis are listed. as a booklet this was sent to every MP in the Westminster parliament in April 2016
Labour Party and the-first-thousand-days
This is a comment on the Labour party paper “Delivering a step change in early intervention and the early years [of childhood]”
The Prime Minister wants to empower headteachers. Academies may do the reverse.