26 October 2012

Evidence-based policy-making?

The new schools minister is getting his feet under the table.  The Telegraph reports:

David Laws attacked the “depressingly low expectations” that he said are holding back children in many parts of the country and preventing them from getting ahead in life.
Even in relatively affluent parts of the country, schools and careers advisers are failing to encourage children to “reach for the stars,” instead pushing them to settle for middling exam results and careers with “medium-ranked” local employers, he said.

What justification does Mr Laws offer for this sweeping attack on schools and teachers?

Mr Laws suggested that some teachers in state schools are still discouraging pupils from targeting places at Oxbridge and other top-ranked universities.
“I still find, talking to youngsters across the country, the same depressing low expectations I found when I went to university in the 1980s,” he added.
“The students you met, who were often the first students from their school who had been to Oxbridge, said they were often encouraged by teachers and others to think that Oxford or Cambridge were not the places for them and they should think of somewhere more modest.”

Accordingly, on distinctly anecdotal evidence, based on his experiences in the 1980s, he presumes to lecture those with years of experience in the field.  Apparently, Mr Laws used to be a merchant banker; to me, he sounds like a pub bore.


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