Former London Schools Commissioner Tim Brighouse has called for state power over education to decrease.
Delivering a lecture to the Oxford Education Society, he argued that central government can never manage the school system effectively. It is ‘too remote from the messy realities and complexities of the classroom and the many variables among individual children and teachers.’
‘Even at school level,’ he says, ‘a skill of the outstanding head teacher lies in deciding on what matters and to what extent it is desirable that staff should “sing from the same song sheet” and on what it is possible to encourage in individuality, professional flair and innovation.’
Central government, he says, ‘should confine itself to formulating aims at the most general level.’ The schools should determine most. Local government, though, has a strong part to play ‘in securing equity of access to schooling, in the provision of SEN services and being answerable for the standards of outcomes of the schools in their area.’
Brighouse observe that, while the 1988 Education Act increased the number of government powers from three to 250, that number has risen to 2000. Passage of the 2011 Education Bill will give the secretary of state another 50.
Decline and fall: are state schools and universities on the point of collapse? By Professor Sir Tim Brighouse can be downloaded here.