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.