Philosophy and Educational Policy

Anthony O'hear
University of Buckingham
There is a country where teachers have high status, and in which they have qualifications on a par with members of other respected profession. Parents and children have high aspirations and high expectations from education. Children are fully aware of the importance of hard and consistent work from each pupil. Schools open on 222 days in the year, and operate on the belief that all children can acquire the core elements of the core subjects. It is not expected that a class will have a tail. Those in danger of becoming part of an incipient tail have to make up work in their breaks or after school. If the worst comes to the worst poor pupils have to repeat a year, while those who are exceptionally able will move up a year. In the primary schools, children are kept as one large group whatever their individual ability. The teacher teaches the whole group, largely from a text book, though interspersing exposition with focused questioning and discussion, so as to ensure the matter in hand has been properly assimilated by all. Lessons last 40 minutes each, with frequent breaks for letting off steam, after which it is down to work again. Pupils are frequently tested and the school Principal makes a couple of unannounced checks on homework books each term. Secondary schools are selective , allowing whole class teaching and whole class progression to predominate up to the end of schooling. The teacher indeed is in contact with the whole class for up to 80 per cent of the lesson time. While the school certainly does have non-academic aims, the focus is clearly on academic work. There is a conviction, shared by all involved, that the social and moral dimensions of the curriculum will tend to look after themselves and emerge as by-products of a properly conducted academic study
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DOI 10.1017/S1358246100003362
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