Estelle Morris: How Trojan horse could have been a different tale

Writing in the Guardian, former education secretary Estelle Morris says that while the greatest impact of the recent turmoil inBirmingham will be on those directly involved, the fallout could trigger a significant change in the direction of national education policy…

…In truth, both the old model of local authority control and the new model of autonomy are flawed – and events in Birmingham should make us face up to it. Three organisations had the responsibility to spot and prevent failure in the Trojan horse schools – the Department for Education, the local authority and Ofsted. They all failed.

Autonomy is rightly going to be the direction of travel but rather than merely signing up to it, we need to ask some basic questions about where power should lie and how it should be kept in check. I offer three shifts in each as a start.

First, there is no reason why teachers should be the ones who decide the body of knowledge handed on from one generation to another. The curriculum shouldn’t be solely in their hands. Second, politicians should stop telling teachers how to teach. Third, governors should act not only in the interest of their own school and their own children but in the interests of the wider community of schools as well. In terms of scrutiny, monitoring of schools should be at local, not national, level; inspection needs to encourage creativity and risk taking as well as compliance, and academy sponsors should pass a public interest test, as recommended by the Public Accounts Committee. Had these been in place, Birmingham might be a different story.

Attempting to give to state schools the best of independent schools’ flexibilities is not an ignoble idea but the different complexities of the two systems mean that very different questions need to be asked as to where power lies and to whom and how it is accountable…

More at: How Trojan horse could have been a different tale

Your thoughts on Estelle Morris’s three points recipe for a new direction of education policy? Do you agree with any/all of them? Please let us know why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…

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