Tweets Three:

From the 1940s up to the mid 1980s politicians had no influence over curriculum or teaching methods in schools but made structural changes, such as:

·      secondary education for all in grammar, modern or technical schools;

·      slowly making secondary school provision comprehensive;

·      replacing GSC and HSC in 1951 with GCE at O-level and A-level plus CSE and later replacing GCE and CSE with GCSE;


These comments show that they kept out of schooling.

1944 PM W Churchill: “Can’t schools be more patriotic?”  Butler, President of Board of Education “I have no say in what is done in schools” 

1950 George Tomlinson, Minister of Education: “Minister knows nowt about curriculum”

1967 Tony Crosland, Sec of State for Education: “I don’t regard either myself or my officials as competent to interfere with the curriculum”


But senior politicians began to express concerns about standards.

1976 PM James Callaghan: “There is a need to achieve higher standards all round due to the complexity of the world we live in”

1985 Sir K Joseph: Sec of State: “The standards generally of our pupils are neither as good as they can be, nor as good as they need to be”

1987 PM Margaret Thatcher: “We want education to be part of the answer to Britain’s problems, not part of the cause” 


Then came the Education Reform Act of 1988 – and the floodgates of power over the education of children in England (and Wales) were opened for both Conservative and Labour ministers.  Here are some examples:

1988 K Baker Sec of State: Education Reform Act: National Curriculum of 10 subjects; 4 key stages with external testing – very complicated

1990 M Fallon jnr Min: “Missing from British education the discipline of the market, accountability thro competition & choice” 

1992 PM J Major: “Coursework in all GCSE exams should be cut to 20 per cent”

1992 Ken Clarke, Sec of State: “Nearly a third of 7-yr-olds cannot even recognise 3 letters of the alphabet” (It was 2% but no apology) 

1998 D Blunkett, Sec of State, sets homework at 1 hr/wk for 5-6 yr-olds, ½ hr/day for 10—11 yr-olds, 2 hr/day 15-16 yr olds

1998 Blunkett said in 2010 “We had a crap teaching profession [when I was Sec of State]”

2006 Alan Johnson, Sec of State: “It’s absolutely right – the whole kit and caboodle of Ofsted to tests. Should intensify rather than relax”


Meanwhile the critics were getting strident

2003 (Independent) National Commission on Education: “Command and control dominates educational decision-making and is counter productive” 

2004 Chair of QCA: “Department of Education and Skills has disjointed initiatives and lack of vision” 

2004 M Bousted, Gen Sec ATL: “New Labour needs to curb control freakery and obsession with making policy without consultation” 

2005 Peter Hyman ex-speech writer for Tony Blair: ‘Why can’t politicians acknowledge that the front line might know more?”  

2006 Shirley Williams (Sec of State 1976-8): “Testing & targets has hugely negative impact. The fun of learning has been overtaken by exams”

2006 P. Perry chief inspector 1981-8 (before Ofsted): “Ofsted is flawed, overly punitive and dysfunctional. Huge crisis of teacher morale.”

2007 Steve Sinnott, Gen Sec NUT: “Schools now in Alice and Wonderland where what was satisfactory is now unsatisfactory” 

2008 Prof R Coffield et al: “Government policy is no longer the solution to the difficulties we face, but our greatest problem”

2009 Prof R Pring: “Education suffers from effects of measurable targets, inflexible assessment, and unexamined assumptions about aims”

2010 Prof R Alexander: “Discussion blocked by derision, truth supplanted by myth and spin. It negates what education should be about”

2012 Prof P Ainley: “What is ignored is the corrosion of education itself, in danger of losing its way forward for new generations”

Elaboration of some of these tweets can be found at


Tweets One:    THE EXCELLENCE OF OUR SCHOOLS    #content_42240406                   

Tweets Two:   EDUCATION UNOTADICE NOTACUIDE     #content_42240457                     

Tweets Four:   EDUCATIONAL IDEOLOGY OF MICHAEL GOVE    #content_42240751     

Tweets Five:   CHALLENGES TO MICHAEL GOVE  #content_42241446                             

Tweets Six:     IF …  BUT SINCE NOT … TIME TO GO! #content_42241478


This page was posted on 3 August 2013