Commended by Michael Gove, Progressively Worse is a history of progressive education from the 1960s to the present day, which argues that progressive education which champions child centred teaching and eschews more traditional approaches has resulted in decades of chaotic schools, disenchanted teachers and pupil failure across the UK.
In his analysis, Robert Peal argues that Britain's abject record in educating children cannot be detached from a movement which took hold in British state schools during the 1960s and has been called - he feels with deep inappropriateness - ‘progressive education’. He cites that since 1953, education spending in Britain has increased by nine times in real terms but levels of numeracy and literacy among school leavers have hardly changed. Today, Britain is the only country in the developed world where literacy and numeracy levels amongst 16 to 24-year-olds are no higher than amongst 55 to 65-year-olds.
The author argues that progressive education is not based on high quality evidence. He supports traditional teaching methods, the importance of core knowledge, and the drive to give schools freedom to run their own affairs and to incentivise innovation.
Peal was previously a history teacher and is now an education research fellow at the think-tank Civitas. He taught for two years at an inner-city secondary school in Birmingham through Teach First.
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