Education expert calls for “an education spring” in this blistering attack on schools’ policy — watch the video here…

Education expert and former QCA chief, Mick Waters, has just published a new book on schools called “Thinking Allowed on Schooling”. He spoke at the House of Commons yesterday about his book, giving a blistering talk about how schools policy is heading in the wrong direction at the moment. He argued passionately for a more evidence-based approach, talking eloquently about the need for “an education spring” which he characterised as “a rising of intolerance about the way schooling is being manipulated in a piecemeal and uncoordinated way to serve too many purposes with unclear measures”. He called for a National Council for Schooling to be set up which is built upon evidence and research and has clearly defined aims for our young people. Above all, he called for a better definition of what a “rounded education” really is and clarity about where schooling fits into that picture. His comments about exams and GCSEs are particularly potent; he has already written in a previous book about how he feels the exam system has become corrupted and has led to schools “playing the game” of getting good results, rather than thinking about what is a good education for our students.

His speech and summing up of the comments made (not on the video here) really make his case very powerfully I think. He is a friendly person who is obviously utterly sincere about what he says. I’m not sure that I agree with all of his ideas such as the “licensing of teachers” — an idea mooted by Ed Balls when he was Education Secretary — but they are always worth thinking about in depth. There’s a really good Guardian article on him here.


Published by: @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing ( which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network,, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.

Categories Attainment gap, Exams, Local schoolsTags, , , Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s