David Cameron has repeatedly reinforced the need to move from a health service which is judged by process-based targets, such as waiting times in A&E, to one judged by its results; whether patients are surviving from conditions and living longer. Such an approach is right for the NHS, where outcome is everything, and high-quality care futile if it doesn’t achieve results.
But the flaws in our educational system are not caused by a lack of focus on results. Rather, they are the product of a philosophy rooted in statistics and perceived outcome at the expense of almost anything else. I have recently completed my A-Levels and was privileged to attend a first-rate independent school, where intellectual curiosity was cherished. This allowed the school to provide a broad experience that prepared its charges for the world outside, as well as achieving commendable examination results.
Nevertheless, no institution is entirely protected from the rigid constrains imposed by a G.C.S.E. or A-Level syllabus. These are, in the most case, vast documents which lay out in detail what ‘should’ be taught; competing exam boards prepare alternatives and many schools simply look for the option which will provide their students with the highest grades, which is understandable when teachers know that if they don’t choose that option, others will, causing their own school to fall in the league tables and potentially resulting in missed university offers from the sixth form.