Headmaster Anthony Seldon’s calls for an urgent debate on the future of education, because it’s become “formulaic and mechanised”, have received widespread coverage in the media. So is he right – do we need another shake-up, or is that the last thing that should be on the agenda?
Writing in The Observer, Anthony Seldon, political commentator and headmaster of private school Wellington College, called for a new education debate – 35 years after James Callaghan called for his great debate because of apparent public concerns over informal teaching methods. This paved the way for the national curriculum.
“Our schools and universities are geared towards the requirements of the 20th century, with students assessed on regurgitating information, but often incapable or unwilling to think independently,” argues Dr Seldon, in his Observer piece (14.2.2010).
“Concerns are now heard that the new focus on league tables is narrowing the quality and breadth of education,” he says.
“‘Punch-drunk’ with constant reforms”
The Daily Telegraph quoted a spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, who said Dr Seldon’s view was “very negative”. And the Telegraph also reported John Dunford, secretary general of the Association of School and College Leaders, as saying that “changes were unlikely to be popular with staff who were already ‘punch-drunk’ with constant reforms”.
Meanwhile news blog EducationState welcomed the call for a debate, but one that is “genuine and open to all”, not one monopolised by what it describes as “Establishment figures”.
* Are we teaching pupils to think or just to pass exams? Is it time for a Great Debate, or is that the last thing pupils and teaching staff need? What do you think?