A CRI DE COEUR
Political action for change is needed to transfer power over the destinies of our children from government to teachers so that educational decisions as to what is right for pupils are determined by those who by training, experience and commitment are best qualified to decide – the teachers, working with parents and local communities.
Parents, teachers and other professionals need to combine forces with the teachers’ unions and associations and bring to an end government over-bearing interference in the work of our educational institutions.
Government action on the education system has become counter-productive. It is time to return control of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment to schools and to assert public trust in the competence, commitment and integrity of the teaching profession.
Would that government could express the necessary political change in words like these.
In celebration of the achievements of government and teachers in creating excellence in our schools, and to ensure the continuation of this process, it is determined that:
• while it remains the lawful duty of the secretary of state for Education to promote the education of the people of England and the progressive development of institutions devoted to that purpose; and
• recognising that the action of government in recent years has substantially raised the standards of pupil achievement in academic tests and examinations ; and
• recognising that schooling must embrace the social, emotional, cultural, creative, and physical development of pupils in addition to the currently successful academic development; and
• recognising the pedagogic competence of the members of the teaching profession in terms of their wisdom, humanity, morality, knowledge, skills, and ability to enthuse pupils with these same qualities; and
• recognising teachers’ personal commitment towards the development of all pupils in fair relation to the pupils’ talents, abilities, needs, and potential; and
• recognising teachers’ role in enriching and deepening national culture, by what they teach, what they do and what they are; and
• recognising the self-regulating power and the achievement-raising potential of the collegial approach to schooling;
it is now the time to reinvest teachers and schools with the power to determine the curriculum, pedagogy and assessment procedures that they judge locally to be appropriate and in the best interests of their pupils.
TO THIS END IT IS DECREED THAT:
3. Local authorities shall support and as necessary co-ordinate the activities of state schools and academies including admission arrangements.
4. Ofsted inspections of schools and academies shall cease, but local authority inspectorates/advisory services shall identify and support such as are in difficulties, and support self-evaluation in all schools and academies.
5. The national curriculum and related teaching strategies shall no longer be obligatory, but may be varied according to institutions’ own decisions.
6. Teacher assessments shall replace all external assessments of pupils prior to GCSE examinations and these assessments shall be communicated to each child’s parents regularly, but shall not be used for public statements. If at some future time GCSE is abolished teacher assessment shall replace all external assessments until the age of 18.
7. Government shall no longer set targets nor "floor standards" for pupil performance. Nor shall schools be named and shamed. League tables of assessments shall no longer be compiled, but in their place schools and academies will be expected to publish annual reports from their governing bodies of ongoing work and progress, making these available to the local authority and the local community.
8. Governing bodies shall be local in membership and shall be the prime agents of public accountability, supported by their local authorities and reporting to them on an annual or bi-annual basis.
9. A National Education Council shall be established which is research-informed and independent-of-government. It shall be government-funded at a level to enable it to undertake and sponsor research and to carry out effectively the functions described here. It shall variously advise parliament, government, general public, local authorities, schools and academies, teachers, governors, and parents (with membership drawn from these constituencies) on significant issues in educational practice and in the relation of education to society. It shall from time to time publish non-mandatory guidance for teachers on matters of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.
10. The National Education Council shall be responsible for the monitoring of standards achieved in the various basic skills taught in schools through a robust and national sampling procedure. Local authorities shall report bi-annually to the Council on the state and progress of education in their area, drawing on reports from school governing bodies. The Council shall report bi-annually to parliament on the state and progress of education nationally, drawing on reports from local authorities and such other evidence as it obtains.
11. Teacher's terms of employment must be national and negotiated between government and the relevant unions. Performance-related schemes for teachers should be phased out, being inappropriate for their work.
It would, of course, be a brave step for a government to take this action because it would effectively depoliticize education. But we should not forget that for much of the 20th century governments saw matters of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment as beyond the competence of government, but the proper province of teachers and schools.
This page was revised on 16 November 2015