Wednesday, March 19, 2008

SCHOOLS TO SET CURRICULUM




Helping Schools Succeed: A Framework for English Education

According to a report from the Policy Exchange, the government should hand control of the curriculum back to teachers.

The report argues that the English education system is too centralised, inflexible and provides little choice for parents and pupils. The report includes a survey of 2,000 adults and parents in England and found widespread support for greater autonomy for schools. In the survey, 75 per cent of parents want to see schools set their own curriculum and 69 per cent of parents go as far as saying politicians manipulate the curriculum to suit their aims. League tables are also criticised by parents. Just two per cent of parents use them as a decisive factor in choosing a school and 42 per cent do not even look at them. A significant majority, 87 per cent, believe the government should use a range of factors to measure success, rather than primarily exam results.

The report backs parents' calls for schools to set their own curriculum, as long as they adhere to a core set of standards set by government. "The National Curriculum restricts the freedom of teachers and schools; it also holds back genuine diversity in the school system," says Sam Freedman, head of Policy Exchange's education unit.

The report also suggests that schools should be free to set their own pay scales in order to address recruitment and retention problems. Performance-related pay is also mooted, with just under two-thirds of parents wanting to see teachers paid in this way. To support schools with their new powers "school operating networks", made up of education experts should be set up locally. These would be encouraged to collaborate with each other and disseminate good practice, the report adds.

League tables should also be replaced with report cards covering a number of areas including attendance and work within the community, rather than just exam results.

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