Unbundling education

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Editor: Over the past few months, I’ve been party to a number of public discussions as well as private conversations about education. Three things became clear: there is widespread support for change, there is substantial agreement as to the nature of desired change; most of the issues are school issues rather than education issues

It naturally follows to wonder why the desired changes are not taking place, or perhaps they are but we are not hearing about them. So I looked at Health and Justice, two other large Departments heavily involved delivering “social services”, and found some significant differences in the way the sectors are organized. Here are three:

- Teachers follow a scripted curriculum in that most of the decisions about what will be taught, by whom, how, when and where are handed down to teachers, leaving comparatively little opportunity for teachers to customize service based on student need; other departments leave some decision-making to front-line professionals;

- Absence of advocates – patients and families have doctors to provide independent information and guidance about health matters; this service is lacking in education;

- Lack of choice – government is the single source provider of most education services; not only is it the major funder, but most of the people who deliver educational services are also on the government payroll; not so in the other departments.

It is my view that education is unlikely to improve until government unbundles education services; it should get out of running schools and, instead, focus its attention on education —  planning, policy, standards, qualifications and funding.

Your views are always welcome at standards2020@gmail.com

Don Glendenning,

A long time student of education

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