“Vagueness blocks discussion and disagreement..”

Northern Ireland Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has released for consultation a policy document entitled “Every School a Good School” – available here [pdf file]. The minister describes it as “a new, pupil centred policy with equality and improvement at its heart”, but it’s interesting to compare it with the UK government “Better Schools for All” White Paper from 2005 announced by then Schools’ Minister, Ruth Kelly, MP, with the line – “We’ve got to make sure that every single school is a good school, serving its pupils well and meeting the demands of the parents .” Both papers share a focus on what’s described as an individual child-centric approach to education and on strengthening parental and community involvement. But one has an additional emphasis on ensuring “that choice is more widely available to all within an increasingly specialist system, not just to those who can pay for it”. I’ll let you work out which one that quote is from. Btw, I found an interesting reference in looking around for this post.. and I thought I’d share

The most obvious slogans are those stated as mottoes. (Indeed, the word slogan, comes from the Gaelic meaning “battle cry.”) Here is an example, during the late 1980’s and early ’90’s public school officials in Philadelphia used the rallying cry: “Every school a good school!” This is a possibly inspiring motto, but it obscures important questions. Must every school be equally good in the same way? And whose ideas of “good” are to count? These are centrally important options, but discussion of them is stifled by the slogan’s systematic ambiguity. Vagueness blocks discussion and disagreement. The slogan achieves initial breadth of consensus by temporarily postponing quarrels about both means and ends. But the cost of this initially broad consensus is great. The shallow depth of consensus on means and ends is obscured and upon attempts at implementation the consensus is likely to break down.

Adds According to the BBC report – “The government is concerned that failing schools appear to be “rewarded” for their faults by getting extra money and support. It has published a list of sanctions which will kick in if improvements do not happen within 18 months. These include sacking the management team and closing down the school.” [Isn’t it the Education Minister’s new proposal? – Ed]