Global Education ‘Reform’ Movement (GERM)


Professor Stephen Ball, of the Institute of Education, has commented "Pearson, the giant London based multinational, offers products and services in all areas of school practice: assessment, pedagogy, curriculum and management, with the aim of influencing policy to create opportunities for further business expansion. It's a very well thought-out business strategy." As the Global Education 'Reform' Movement strengthens its position on the global education stage it poses a real threat to high quality public education. Here is how:

  • The Global Education ‘Reform’ Movement (GERM) threatens the teaching profession by prioritising and imposing a business model on education.
  • The traits of the GERM are: competition (both between schools and teachers); test based accountability; performance related rewards; and attacks on teacher unions.
  • Education in almost every country in the world is subject to the grip of education 'reform' which is diminishing public schooling, promoting privatisation and destroying teacher professionalism. It aims to produce a narrowly educated workforce, which can read instructions and advertisements but is discouraged from thinking critically about the world.
  • These reforms are being advocated by: the World Bank; OECD; some governments; and private corporations.
  • The mechanisms used to propagate GERM and infect education systems globally include: testing, technology, the weakening of teacher’s collective professional voice and corporate capitalism.
  • Education is viewed as an opportunity to maximise human capital, abandoning education’s role of creating cultural good and social cohesion. The audit and accountability culture of GERM takes education out of the hands of those who create it and own it (teachers, students, and the public) to develop a commodity which can be traded globally. Education becomes a service sector which is open to trade and investors. This view of education is about profit not people, for example developing education technology for capital.
  • In the UK the GERM is evident in: fragmentation of education provision through ‘academies’ and ‘free schools’; marketisation and competition; growth in standardised testing and ‘league tables’, end of the national pay framework and the introduction of performance related pay; and privatisation of education services.
  • Countries such as Finland have resisted the GERM an as a result, the education system in Finland is considered to be the best in the world.

“Healthy schools are resistant to GERM and its inconvenient symptoms. In these countries, teaching remains an attractive career choice for young people.” Pasi Sahlberg, visiting Professor of Education at Harvard University, 2012

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