Editor: The Guardian of Wednesday, January 29, carried an item in which the English School Board invited input into a review of governance (School Board seeks public input on governance policies). I commend the board for the public invitation and urge readers to respond. Too often we criticize our school system but too seldom do we make suggestions, even when invited.
I am a strong believer in giving people freedom to act, and holding them accountable for their action. Therefore, I strongly urge a general devolution of decision-making authority at all levels, but especially devolution to teachers and schools. I make this plea, based on my own experience but also based on the OECD finding that, where schools have significant autonomy over their day to day operation, students perform better.
Autonomy means different things in different countries, in some it is freedom to select textbooks and or decide courses to be offered, in others schools play a major role in developing budgets and allocating resources, while still others allow schools to actually develop their own staffing patterns and hire and allocate staff accordingly.
Schools are places where young people go to obtain help with learning the skills needed to function in, contribute to and enjoy life. The amount of help learners receive will depend, to a large degree on the quality of professional staff and their freedom to do what needs to be done. I believe that our quality is as good as any; itâs time to give freedom a chance.