Tim Brighouse Lecture at the Oxford Education Society 16/09/2011

Adrian Elliott's picture
Just come across this and thought I would share it in case anyone missed it.

Will comment later when I have time to read it properly
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Fiona Millar's picture
Fri, 30/09/2011 - 17:21

It is a very good read!

Adrian Elliott's picture
Sat, 01/10/2011 - 07:57

Yes, there is much of interest here.

He raises the issue,to take one example, of how central government will both support and hold to account hundreds,eventually thousands, of schools as more and more become academies or free schools.

At the S.Times Education Festival at Wellington, I asked where the support would come from for a school devastated by,for example, a major fire.

But Sir Tim also brings up the question of financial accountability and support. It is no coincidence that the worst example of financial fraud in a state school since the war happened in a grant maintained school under John Major's government. What was striking about that case was how quickly the facts were discovered by local authority auditors, once GM status was abolished after the 1997 election.

Of course, I am not suggesting that hundreds of academy heads are itching to get their hands on the school funds in order to decamp to the Maldives or that in a few months night skies across the land will be bright with blazing free schools.

I am suggesting, though, that I see no evidence these issues have been even properly considered whilst those in the national media and politics spend much time disparaging the work of conscientious local authority officers who have done so much to alleviate these problems.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 01/10/2011 - 10:44

Brighouse's lecture, even with the deliberately provocative title of "Decline and fall: are state schools and universities on the point of collapse?" failed to raise any interest in the media*. It has been ignored. Yet it has much to say about the dangers of centralised control, interference with the curriculum, undermining teacher professionalism, and how market forces in education can undermine equity (a concern shared by the OECD). He describes how successive Secretaries of State for Education since the late eighties have taken increasingly more power. This has reached a stage now, Brighouse warns, where the SoS can act without needing permission from Parliament which he describes as increasingly impotent. He also describes how words like diversity, choice, autonomy, and accountability have become "mantra words" (Orwell would describe them as weasel words) interpreted by politicians in such a way as to distort discussion about the English state system.

*Google search using "Brighouse Lecture 2011 news" resulted in the link to the lecture itself followed by this discussion on the Local Schools Network. My search in most papers (even the TES) using the words "Brighouse lecture 2011" brought nil responses. Except for one: The Daily Star found ten articles dated 1 October 2011. Nine were about Big Brother so I presume the Star thought I was searching for the Big Brother House and I couldn't spell it. The remaining Star article, and the one at the top of the list, was headed, "X Factor 2011 - Crazy Kitty's a dippy diva".

Adrian Elliott's picture
Sat, 01/10/2011 - 17:50

In similar positive vein there is a good,well-researched article in today's FT claiming that the poorest children have made better than average progress in the past ten years and have narrowed the social class gap at GCSE .

The researcher ignored vocational subjects, incidentally and concentrated on the 'Ebacc core'.

There is a typically miserable comment by a DfE spokesperson, saying that the gap hasn't narrowed much,despite the fact that the whole thrust of media and political comment since May 2010 has been that the gap has widened not narrowed.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 02/10/2011 - 16:56

Nick Gibb's latest pronouncements about the thousands of children failing to achieve 3Rs at Level 1 and about the wide gap between children on free school meals and the rest were based on some faulty statistics and a glaring arithmetical error which neither the DfE or the media noticed:


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