Education will continue to be at the mercy of politically based decision making unless it can establish a much more secure and public consensus on what actually works. Imagine a government interfering in Nuclear power generation without having the strongest scientific evidence to support them. Education will never have access to ‘scientific evidence’ ,but would surely benefit from some mechanism that could act as an arbiter of wisdom. Perhaps the nearest example is the Wise Men of the Treasury – they are not always unanimous but their consensus wins the day.
Imagine that such a body had been able to establish a consensus on issues such as making all students study a language, the value of 14-19 diplomas, the quality of science teaching by those with a 3rd class degree, the importance of CVA, the value to schools of Local Authority support, the dangers of making schools operate commercially, the best curricula etc etc – not only might we avoid huge waste and demoralisation, we might get a little closer to the fair and effective school system that appears to be the common goal.
One key problem is that the conventional wisdom of teachers – gained from day to day experience and informed reflection – doesnt often get communicated effectively byond the confines of the school system. Educational research needs to be able to capture this knowledge with recognised and robust methodologies – which it often does, but the problem seems to be the wider dissemination of these findings and the gaining of some high profile and lasting seal of authority. Such a ‘seal’ would provide a greater public and practical bulwark against the vote catching initiatives. If such a domestic ‘Truth Commission’ was too contentious then we could always ask for a fair judgement from an International Body.