Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I write for the Guardian website today

I have an article on Guardian Unlimited calling for the Liberal Democrats to be more, er, liberal on education.


Anonymous said...


I like the article; it's well written, and as far as I can tell from reading/commenting your blog for a while, we share a broadly similar outlook on education policy.

However, the article does seem to draw to a close before you reach the point. I mean, as I understand it, more than 70% of state school funds are determined by simple pupil numbers, while top-up funds are distributed to LEAs with various socioeconomic, err, difficulties.

In that sense, the status quo could be deemed to have "pupils ... funded on an individual basis, with schools given incentives to accept those from less priveleged backgrounds".

Ok, so that would be a bit of a stretch - and I don't really buy it myself - but isn't the slightly tame case that you set out open to a response along the lines of: "Parents do have school choice and those choices do have direct funding effects on schools, so what's your point?"

p.s. The "If liberalism is to amount to something more than socialism without the identity cards, respect for individual difference must be central to it." lines is a good one :).

Tristan said...

Good article.

I agree with the broad sentiment, we certainly do need to get back to a view of education which puts the individual at the centre.

The number of times I have heard LibDems say we shouldn't have choice (or even let those with money have choice) is worrying. Perhaps some of this stems from pure oppositional politics (Blair says it so we must oppose it, especially if the Tories agree), it also seems to stem somewhat from 'received wisdom' and by the fact that we are told we have choice but it is not a real choice.

As for listening to teachers, we should listen to them, but not the NUT leadership (NUT is a fitting acronym) or those wild eyed fanatics who make speaches at conferences, but a broad range of teachers with no political ideology to push or axe to grind.

Anonymous said...

I think it is significant that Sarah Teather comes from a partly home-schooled background. It's often forgotten that the primary legal responsibility for ensuring that a child is educated lies with the parent/guardian, not the state. If you take even a cursory look at the statutory requirements relating to home-schooling, and the related advice to education authorities regarding inspection and assessment, you will notice how lax/liberating (delete according to preference) they are when contrasted with the plethora of standards and targets that surrounds institutional schools. Yet, ostensibly, both are aimed at achieving the same end.

Apparently, there’s something called “flexi-schooling” which seeks the best of both worlds. Maybe Sarah should take a look.