The dead hand of central government is weighing down on children and schools
Soon it won't matter which school you 'choose'. The same factory line will follow, as the accountability structure constrains schools' ability to be creative or different, says Fiona Millar.
Last month marked another milestone for me. Our last child did her last school exam. It is the end of an era for us and on balance I am glad our children grew up in the last 20 years rather than the next.
The first one started school in 1992. "Choice" was in its infancy. We didn't look at any schools beyond those that were geographically closest to where we lived and have never regretted that. Our children have always walked to school; one has never worn a uniform. They have achieved well, but their education has extended way beyond test and exam results because of the values of their schools, the relationships they made and the children they have been educated alongside.
Despite the public rhetoric of those two decades, choice for most parents has narrowed. One of the greatest myths perpetuated by "reformers" about the English school system is that it has been too weighed down by the dead hand of uniformity.
In fact, the reverse is true. English schools have always been diverse (and unequal), embracing an abundance of private, selective, non-selective, faith, non-denominational, single-sex and co-educational schools with different atmospheres and outlooks.
A few more school types may have been invented, but now it is the dead hand of central government, league tables, Ofsted and the four or five data sets that determine institutional success that weigh heavily on all children.
Want your children to enjoy an early education dominated by creativity and play? Forget it. A secondary school without a uniform? No chance. Education for education's sake? Dream on.
Read more ... (The Guardian - 9 July)