17 May 2007

Less Haste, More Reform

Yet again, it looks like the Government is rushing headlong into more botched education reforms.

A lesson in haste from Harriet, Darwin's tortoiseThe Commons Education and Skills Committee has warned of confusion over the introduction of new Specialised Diplomas for teenagers that mix practical and theoretical learning. The cross-party committee of MPs says ministers risk failure if they do not delay full implementation of the scheme and treat the first year as a genuine pilot.

Earlier in the year, industry leaders and exam boards expressed similar concerns. Just two weeks ago, buried beneath the elections news, leading science organisations warned the Government that schools are under too much pressure from other developments to implement changes in the school curriculum for 11 to 14-year-olds, also noting their alarm that the changes are not being piloted.

The Department for Education and Skills, of course, are ploughing ahead anyway with their "exciting new opportunity"—an opportunity that the Head of Education at the National Union of Teachers has described as "a cliff face," noting that "It's not only the diplomas that are going to hit schools; there's the revised Key Stage 3 curriculum and new functional syllabi for maths and English GCSE. We have got a bunching of major reforms in secondary schools. We are constantly warning the DfES that we cannot do it all at the same time."