Seaton Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, says the "progressive" educationalists are still seeking to stop parents knowing about primary school failings.

Last week's publication of the Final Report of the Cambridge Primary Review received media coverage way in excess of its importance.

For almost 24 hours, from midnight on Thursday to just before midnight on Friday, radio and television programmes were awash with discussion about it.  All this did was to add to the confusion and, arguably, allow the 'progressive' minority to befuddle a few more parents and teachers.

Led by Cambridge University's education department and funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the review has taken  three years to complete. The report runs to 608 pages and the team emphasises that it drew on over 4,000 published sources, plus evidence from official data, written submissions and face-to-face interviews.

Yet all that time, effort and expense were almost certainly wasted, because the report is so long-winded and ambiguous. Instead of just criticising the currently imposed 'state theory of learning', wouldn't it have been better honestly to explain the state's socialist (Marxist) theory of learning – exactly the same for all children with emphasis on socialisation and politically correct values at the expense of subject knowledge?

The final conclusions suggest that primary education is 'in general, doing a good job'.  Would the thousands of youngsters who, each year, complete their primary education and move up to secondary schools without being able to read, spell, or do simple sums, agree with that?

Would the growing number of  state-school parents who have to pay for private tutors to teach areas of the curriculum that their 11-year-old children have not covered, but will need if they are to have a fair chance of passing a common entrance exam to join an independent school or the 11-plus exam to enter a grammar school, agree?  I doubt it.

The Cambridge Review's response to such concerns is more socialisation and more play-based learning for five-year-olds. Labour's Early Years Foundation Stage, the review suggests, should be extended to age six, and the primary phase should be reduced to the ages of 6 to 11.  And, of course, primary school accountability should be removed by making national tests less objective, using only sample testing, and halting central publication of school-by-school results.

The report also recommends that the 'prevailing concept of standards should be re-assessed', because it is 'restricted, restrictive and misleading'.  So does the boss of Tesco, Sir Terry Leahy, not understand what he described last week as 'woefully low' standards in schools?

Presumably, the Cambridge proposals were too 'progressive' for Labour ministers or Conservative shadow ministers. They immediately denounced them.

But should the future of primary education be a matter for national politicians, or educationists, who would rather debate the issues than do something practical? Unless parents  are offered clear information and genuine choice, surely this is more a matter for local politicians and their officials who know their area's schools?

Sensible parents know what they want. The real problem is that too few local authorities have the sense to do what is needed: leave good schools alone and rapidly improve the bad ones.

13 comments for: Primary Schools: Suppressing the data won’t solve the problem

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