Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 06 Jul 2009

Now the national strategies have been abolished wonít we just return to the old free-for-all that harmed so many children?

Hillary's Advice

Those of us with long memories can remember just how bad things were before these centralised teaching directives came in. Lots of children, mine included, had no decent grounding in the basics of literacy and numeracy, and many with learning difficulties were left to flounder and sink.

Yes, the new instructions were clunky and time-consuming. They tied teachersí hands and took away their professional autonomy. But they imposed some much-needed classroom order on the chaos and have, over the years, been refined down into something much more manageable and flexible.

Yet times change and I believe it is now right to ditch them. The culture of teaching has changed beyond measure. Todayís teachers are steeped in the need to teach children the basics in a systematic way and to offer additional help to those who are struggling. Schools know they are accountable for every pupil. Meanwhile no more progress is made in upping standards, many children are still being failed by the system, and it is right that schools are now given more freedom to help their own pupils in their own way.

I suppose it all boils down to whether you believe educational progress goes round in a circle, or up in a spiral. In this case I believe it is the latter. New problems will emerge, they always do, but I donít believe it will be a return to business as before, and with standards stalling it is time to try a fresh approach.