Friday, 16 October 2009

Education - flawed 'policies' failing our nation

The authors of an influential review (the 'Cambridge Primary Review') have today called for SATS tests to be abandoned ... saying their high-stakes nature, linked to league tables, encourages a too-narrow focus on literacy and numeracy.

Professor Robin Alexander said 'We don't think Sats are fit for purpose' ... instead, children should be assessed on a broad range of subjects throughout primary school and at its end, but these assessments should be used to monitor children's progress rather than hold teachers accountable.

This fundamentally challenges Government policy over the last 10 years, and follows on from a damning statement yesterday from Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco (at the Institute of Grocery Distribution's annual conference). Tesco has grown from humble beginnings into a global success, by focusing on what customers want and providing them value & choice ... it also just happens to be the largest private employer in the UK.

Sir Terry Leahy said 'we depend on high standards in our schools ... but sadly, despite all the money that has been spent, standards are still woefully low in too many schools'. He went on to say ... 'from my perspective there are too many agencies and bodies, often issuing reams of instructions to teachers, who then get distracted from the task at hand: teaching children'.

Sir Terry Leahy knows all about providing value and 21st century management practice (see P180-188 of my book for instance), and the UK needs to take note of his observations. Sir Terry knows only too well that to succeed in the modern world 21st century leaders and managers need to understand and get close to the work ... focusing on helping & supporting front line line staff to continuously improve the service provided (and to find innovate new ways of providing new services/better outcomes too). They do not sit in plush offices, remote from the real work, issuing an ever increasing number of dsyfunctional policies/instructions and dreaming up additional performance targets for front line staff to meet, or creating more new initiatives in response to latest news headlines (or to create news)!

One creates value, prosperity and growth ... the other generates waste, frustration and failure ... 'waste of time jobs' systematically generating 'poorer outcomes' and 'excessive amounts of waste, inefficiency and frustration everywhere else' ... and when it comes to education, there is arguably few things more important to the long term well-being of our community and the overall success of our nation ... hence the importance of the statements made above, as well as those within my own blog too (e.g. 1,2,3) ... and if you want to understand the challenges ahead and to see how far off current education policies are in preparing children for the future take a look at this too.

Referred to on Mark Easton's blog (post 43).