Freedom from Failure

Despite the best efforts of both Conservative and Labour Governments, the education system is still failing too many children, writes Conor Ryan, former Labour education special adviser. A quarter of 11 year olds still cannot read properly. It takes two and a half years to sack a bad teacher. And there are too many bad schools.

Radical solutions are required to meet both the failures of the system, and the failures of the individual schools.

These solutions include the use of intensive synthetic phonics; a rapid expansion of the Graduate Teaching Programme so that in-school training becomes the norm, not the exception; and radical reform of vocational education so that work is a real option for children from the age of fourteen.

In terms of addressing the problmes of bad schools, any school not reaching its exam performance targets in 2004 and 2006 must be expected to close; good schools should be allowed to expand; and good schools and bad schools should be linked to the benefit of both.

And the private and voluntary sector should be more involved: it must be made easier for them not only to take over bad schools but also, where appropriate, to take over all of a city’s or a borough’s schools.

Conor Ryan - Thursday, 7th November, 2002