Since 1988, education reform has been driven by what Bernard Barker shows to be a delusion. The notion that learning can be improved by five measures: performance tables, competition, poverty denial, best practice recipes and quick leadership fixes has proved to be wholly untrue. As the pendulum swings towards a general election in 2010, this timely book argues that New Labour's education policies have become the single biggest obstacle to school improvement. If policy makers don't change their thinking completely, schools will be trapped in cycles of perpetual change that lead nowhere. Discontent with failed, top-down reform and the prospect of political change have created a rare opportunity to reinvent education policy, and to think afresh about how teachers and children should be encouraged to aim high. "The Pendulum Swings" explores alternative, genuinely transformative conceptions of leadership and learning and explains how they could become the foundation for a better approach to improving our schools. Bernard Barker is Emeritus Professor of Educational Leadership and Management, School of Education, University of Leicester.
He headed comprehensive community colleges in Cambridgeshire and Leicester for 19 years and is the author of the acclaimed Transforming Schools - illusion or reality?