C J Koh Professorial Lecture 2010: Professor Robin Alexander

C J Koh Professorial Lecture 2010: Professor Robin Alexander

Thursday, 18 March 2010

The National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University (NIE/NTU), Singapore will be organising the C J Koh Professorial Lecture entitled The Perils of Policy: Success, Amnesia and Collateral Damage in Systemic Educational Reform, to be delivered by Professor Robin Alexander. 

Professor Alexander is Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, Professor of Education Emeritus, University of Warwick, and Director of the Cambridge Primary Review. 

The series of C J Koh Professorial Lectures has been made possible through a donation of S$1.5 million to the Nanyang Technological University Endowment Fund. The donation was made by Mr Ong Tiong Tat, executor of the estate of the late Mr Koh Choon Joo (C J Koh), a lawyer and philanthropist. The endowment serves the programme of the Koh Choon Joo Professorship in Education. An additional sum of S$500,000 was donated to the endowment fund for the awards of the Pradap Kow (Mrs C J Koh) Scholarship in Higher Degrees in Education.

The Perils of Policy: Success, Amnesia and Collateral Damage in Systemic Educational Reform


In the space of just two decades, England’s school system has been transformed from one of the least centralised to one of the most centralised in the developed world. During the past decade in particular, the UK government has launched numerous initiatives aimed at raising educational standards. As levers of reform it has used high stakes testing and inspection, nationally-prescribed teaching strategies, school league tables and micro-managed curricula for schools and teacher training. Efforts have also been made to import the policies and practices of those countries which head the international achievement survey league tables. Given that a similar reform trajectory is being followed by an increasing number of countries in the pursuit of ‘world class’ educational standards (sometimes even citing England’s supposed success as justification), the English experience provides a significant case study.

The independently-funded Cambridge Primary Review, the most comprehensive enquiry into English primary education for 40 years, recently published its final report. The review was not set up as an audit of policy – its remit was much broader and more forward-looking than this – but the reforms of the past two decades, and the claims made for and against them, were an inescapable part of its total picture. Robin Alexander, the review’s director, will draw on the review’s evidence to offer a commentary on the English experiment in centralised reform, and will invite consideration of its lessons.

Event Details 

Thursday, 18 March 2010

3.30pm – 5.00pm

Auditorium, Civil Service College
31 North Buona Vista Road

About the speaker

Robin Alexander is Fellow of Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Warwick, and formerly Professor of Education at the University of Leeds. Educated at the universities of Cambridge, Durham, London and Manchester, he has taught in schools, colleges and universities, has served on government advisory bodies and national enquiries in the UK, and has undertaken research, evaluation and consultancy in several other countries.

His research and writing on education since the 1980s have covered policy, pedagogy, curriculum, evaluation, international comparative and cultural studies, primary education and teacher education. He has been consistently wary of professional and political orthodoxies, and his approach to the central educational questions of value, purpose, content and process remains radical.

Professor Alexander’s 2001 book Culture and Pedagogy won top education book prizes on both sides of the Atlantic. From October 2006, he has directed The Cambridge Primary Review, an independent enquiry into the condition and future of primary education in England. He is currently President of the British Association for International and Comparative Education.

Further details are available in http://www.robinalexander.org.uk/