Yesterday, the Guardian published an excellent piece by journalist John Harris on the death of creativity and enjoyment of learning our state school system. The piece has caused a lot of BTL ( Below the Line) comment, with many people agreeing with his analysis.
In essence, Harris argued that changes to the curriculum have created an unhealthily competitive and constricted atmsphere in many schools, and particularly for very young children.
Worse, it is producing a state system that aims to mimic the kind of private school education that many on the Tory front bench enjoyed. This may well be leading, in certain wealthy urban locations, to the return of some upper/ middle class families to the state system ( see my recent LSN article on this development here) partly as a result of the pressure of rising private school fees, partly because a mix of selection ( overt and covert) and elitist values make such institutions 'safe spaces' for the better off but it is a kind of state school success that has little to do with a vision of education as a place where communities can learn together.
He also reminds us that even in the darkest Thatcherite days, when education was severely underfunded, there were schools and teachers that were doing an excellent job, and thousands of young people who got a good education. Where would you hear that in today's conformist atmosphere, with most of the educational press/media seeming to subscribe to an ahistorical view of education and all intellectual ambition ascribed to the recent, punitive policies of the Conservatives?
Harris's passionate piece seems to me to touch on many of the issues that we discuss here on the LSN and in our recent book The Truth About Our Schools - so I thought I would re-post it here for LSN readers and open up further discussion of its themes.