Friday, June 17, 2005

Little David Goes For Managerialism

General agreement today that David Cameron is going to stand. Although in truth the conclusion seems to be based on little more than his statement on R4 Today about the 1922 vote: "I didn’t vote at all actually. I think anyone contemplating taking part in this contest should probably not vote on the new system."

But if he is going to run, what does he stand for? The pundits have been praising up his speech on education, several of them comparing it favourably to Our Man's "platitudes...and numbing banality" (Economist).

Well, DC's speech does certainly give us his approach to education:

'My focus is going to be simple and straightforward - on the basics. Discipline. Standards. Promoting teaching methods that work. Scrapping those that don't. Building on tests, league tables and exam standards that genuinely measure success, failure and progress. Exposing and demolishing those that dumb down, promote an "all must have prizes mentality" or simply waste time.

It is only once we have established what constitutes a good education that we should go on to ask: what stands in its way? How can we clear the obstacles in its path?'

You know, that all sounds kind of familiar...oh yes, I know- we've heard it all before from that nice 'Education. Education. Education' man.

Cameron goes on to run through a whole pile of stuff that he reckons would work well in our schools. Including this gem:

'We welcome the Government review of the National Literacy Strategy, but we are clear about the stand that should be taken and the battles that will have to be fought. Phonics works. Tip toeing gently around this subject gets us nowhere.'

Phonics works. Dave, we know you're a nice bright concerned guy. But how the hell do you know that? Are you an expert? A teacher perhaps. Well, I actually trained as a teacher many years ago. And the expert money then was backing something called the Initial Training Alphabet. Of course, those of us who had been taught to read using an earlier expert fad called Look and Say knew it was crackers, but there you are. It was just the current fashion.

Let me tell you something Dave. We punters out here don't trust your education experts. And we've got even less confidence in politicians who want to follow their prescriptions to impose managerial 'best practice' across the country.

We want competition and choice. We want all parents to be given the same freedom to choose their kids' education as is currently the preserve of the rich. You don't know how schools should be run, and you don't know what's best for us.

To say we're disappointed is an understatement. We've already got one managerialist/socialist party, and we don't want another.

WE. WANT. A. CHOICE.

And you know the really great bit? Dave made his speech at Policy Exchange.
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