Teachers need the freedom to educate

Every dictatorship of the 20th century, as far as I can tell, has targeted the media and education. Once they are in control of those institutions they feel they are in control of their country.

Every dictatorship of the 20th century, as far as I can tell, has targeted the media and education. Once they are in control of those institutions they feel they are in control of their country.

This in itself must indicate to us the importance of

those areas. It is often said of the Jesuits that they claim that if they have a child before the age of seven, they have that child for life.

No wonder it is then that all governments take a particular interest in education. Even in a democracy, such as ours in Britain, ideology can still play a major role in educational reform.

To the true educationalist, ideology is not an option. The only important fact is the child/the undergraduate and the true purpose of education.

Of course this is open to debate - and debate, if honest and objective as well as altruistic, is of great value. But no one can deny that the student is to be given the intellectual tools, as well as the social and emotional, to learn how to think, to analyse, to desire knowledge and wisdom and how to pursue scholastic interests.

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This demands guidance but not dictatorship, freedom not restriction as well as standards and examples of excellence and awareness of the make-up of a fully rounded human being.

Reading a paper delivered by Sir Eric Anderson to headteachers I endorsed his approval of a sentence in the Clarendon report of 1870: "The greater schoolmasters are those that are interfered with least."

Going on to quote John Clare he noted that since 1997 secondary schools have received "547 pieces of guidance." Teachers are professional. They need to be allowed to teach. If any government wants successful schools and universities it must support teachers. It must also allow poor or bad teachers to be removed.

The latter grows ever more bureaucratic, time consuming and expensive.

Research and analysis by Fraser Nelson and James Forsyth for The Spectator on the last decade of education is depressing. Statistics, which are not always easy to accept and are often limited in value, are concerning. In the conclusion to their article (February 3 2007) they write "Outside Britain, educational techniques are developing, educational inequality is narrowing and rival economies are advancing as a result. A generation of British children has been betrayed…"

Particularly damaging in my eyes is that Sir Eric Anderson also notes the decline of our educational standards when measured against other countries.

But even less acceptable is that he notes that, should state education be measured separately from independent education according to a study by the Programme for International Students Assessment compiled for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, then the private sector comes top of all other groups of schools in the 31 developed countries examined.

Ideology still seems to hold sway even to the detriment of the opportunities offered to our children. Two main factors picked out by Sir Eric, and I wholeheartedly agree, are that private schools are "not too large" and they are "schools of choice".

In our region at the moment there is consultation over the two and three tier system of schools.

In Beccles, where I am the Catholic parish priest, this matter is exercising the minds of many parents. My fear is that our schools will become too big. In a world wherein targets, monies, examination results, policies and regulations seem to many to be more important than individuals, size does matter.

Pupils have individual talents, needs and abilities, so greater choice over specialist schools seems appropriate. Why do

so many bang on about privilege, exclusivity, selection etc rather than seeking the best and most appropriate for each and every child.

As I pen this article through my post box has come the set of papers for the next governors' meeting I am to attend. It contains mountains of paperwork and specific papers on The Education and Inspections Act 2006, Joint Area Review 2007 and the Children and Young People's Plan, Transforming Learning with Communities, School Organisation Review, National Curriculum Attainment in 2006, DfES Financial Management Standard in Schools, Safeguarding Children, Acceptable use of ICT and Mobile Phones Policy and Health and Safety - the Employers' Duty of Care.

More guidelines? What type of education do we provide

and who is dictating what to whom? What about the good of the children?