Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
on 5 November 2016
This is a readable Cook's Tour of English education policy since the foundation of public education. It does this by presenting successive waves of policy that are not [always] coterminous with changes of government. The origins, unsurprisingly, are rooted in the class system where a little education was deemed necessary for the new urbanised society in order that factory hands would be literate and able to follow instructions, but not extensive enough to allow social mobility. Some will argue with this model, but they just need to look at the history of the Combined Cadet Forces that lodged in with schools, training officers in private schools, NCOs in state grammar schools, whilst secondary moderns churned out the cannon fodder. More progressive governments changed tack to develop education as a means of emancipating the masses, whilst less progressive governments were led by economic needs - but interestingly in a common direction of increasing the length and scope of school education and increasingly focusing on creative skills rather than simple learning of random facts.
This is not a long read, and the universality of its wisdom is questionable given the focus almost entirely on England. Successive Secteraries of State for Education are paraded like a Book of Saints - anyone remember Shirley Williams or Mark Carlisle? - and we revisit the education initiatives of our childhoods. We remember the introduction of the Curriculum, the closure of grammar schools and the development of grant maintained status. In more recent years, we see the Tory/Lib Dem Free Schools.
And it is all jolly good fun. But whether there is real enlightenment to be had from the journey - anything that could be relevant to the present day educator or education administrator - is doubtful. The education field has moved so far over the past century and a half that anything historical is probably only of... er... historical interest.