A Generation of Radical Educational Change: New book from Pring & Roberts

Any new book by Richard Pring (former director of the Department of Education at Oxford, former civil servant, former trainee priest, gardener, philosopher, marathon-runner, sleep-connoisseur, etc) and Martin Roberts (former headteacher of Cherwell School, advisor to the Prince’s Teaching Institute and historian) is always welcome. But their new edited collection, A Generation of Radical Educational Change: Stories from the Field brings together Richard and Martin with Tim Brighouse, Kenneth Baker, Kenny Frederick, Wendy Scott, Peter Newsam, Margaret Maden, Tim Oates and many others in what is, in effect, an inter-generational communication. The premise is two-fold: first, genuinely radical educational change did take place in this country that improved conditions for all young people, especially those at most disadvantage; second, that the history of this radicalism and its positive impact on the British education system is at risk of being lost as teaching is ever more expected to be a fragmented profession, a short-term mission subject to the anecdotage of Doug Lemov & Co, and where the neoconservative twitterers seek to claim the word ‘radical’ as their own, as the sole property of the political right.

Pring and Roberts instead draw on the personal experience of their contributors as teachers, school leaders, education officers, policy-makers and politicians (and sometimes from more than one of these categories – like Richard, Tim Brighouse, Kenneth Baker, Margaret Maden, Kenny Frederick) to show what was possible and also what still is. The book concludes explicitly as an address to the future generation of educational leaders, those younger people who are starting out in their teaching careers or are moving into their first roles with leadership responsibility. This final chapter is organised around 15 points of principle that should inform anyone – policy-maker or school leader – who wishes to bring about positive, radical change in education. The first five of these are:

  1. Limit power and control over education by central government.
  2. Create a ‘middle-tier’ between schools and colleges and government.
  3. Create a more rationally organised and uniform system of schooling.
  4. Ensure equal funding for pupils across schools and colleges.
  5. Trust the teachers.

It’s good advice overall for anyone actually involved in education but also for the general public in terms of their own understanding of how the education system and schools work. And with a government that thinks it knows better than parents how their children should be educated, it has probably never been as important for the wider public to be informed.

A flyer for the book with an order form giving 20% discount is downloadable by clicking here.