Wednesday 26 April 2017

Our education system is paralysed - but the Coalition offers only glib, quick-fix solutions

'What will we get come election time? Finance Minister Michael Noonan wants iPads for five-year-olds. The smart economy is to be complemented with smart classrooms. The rudiments of primary school education - reading and writing skills - may be substituted by a slick app. Another glib, quick-fix solution'
'What will we get come election time? Finance Minister Michael Noonan wants iPads for five-year-olds. The smart economy is to be complemented with smart classrooms. The rudiments of primary school education - reading and writing skills - may be substituted by a slick app. Another glib, quick-fix solution'
Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

On this week in 1996, Tony Blair was on the cusp of changing British politics after 18 years of Tory rule. At the Labour Party's conference in Blackpool, he asserted the three main priorities for a New Labour government would be "Education, Education and Education." He dreamed of breaking inter-generational cycles of disadvantage through education.

His vision was to make Britain a learning society through investment and reform programmes. He saw a way forward by setting transparent targets for rapid and radical improvement in schools and colleges. There were literacy and numeracy strategies in primary schools, and a mission to develop all secondary schools into centres of excellence. His stance defines the difference between leadership and management in politics and public administration.

Blair was offering idealism, instilling societal values and seeking to empower future generations. We have outsourced responsibility for educational reform to teachers' unions. The latest twist in the Junior Cycle reform saga represents the nadir of paralysis in classroom change.

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