"Charles Clarke...accepted... that some children were having a very stultifying and limited experience of education. The question was, did that apply to 5% or 95% of them? Clarke appeared to be a rare example of an education secretary who was prepared to entertain the possibility that the government wasn't always right. He published a document encouraging primaries to be more creative and flexible in their teaching, but he moved on before he could lend political muscle to that instruction.
Since then, every education secretary and minister has been distinguished by an almost wilful determination to ignore the mass of research that does not suit their agenda. Politically, that is the easiest choice. They are encouraged in this by their senior civil servants, whose careers have been built around delivering a particular agenda, and who have nothing to gain by seeing it change course. What is truly alarming is that ministers rarely even glimpse the reports they dismiss. Last year I mentioned a particularly critical Ofsted report to one minister. "Oh, my people tell me there's nothing new in that," he said, breezily. In fact, it had a great deal that was new, and important, and the individuals who put thousands of man-hours into preparing it were probably writing it for an audience of three - of which the minister who never read it was the most important one."