As a supporter of "Big Society" and not "Big Government" I am curious why you have so little faith in society and the individuals of which it is comprised. More crucially - the facts and information you claim to love. It's well known by anyone involved working (or playing!) with young children that they have a natural and profound capacity to learn. A child who is loved, nurtured and encouraged will learn in spite of any outside means. Of far greater import is the securing of that environment and supporting parents than dictating new rules and guidelines to artificially propel their offsprings' infant brains along the educational conveyor belt.
There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to learning, otherwise a "plug and play" approach would have been adopted long ago. Thankfully the alarming possibilities presented in "Brave New World" are Science Fiction not Science Fact and our offspring are unique individuals with their own abilities and capacity to learn. For those who choose a school based education, to facilitate learning you actually need to know the children to meet their needs. And that's surely what professionals DO? Or should be allowed to do? Because the persistent undermining of teacher's professionalism is causing many to vote with their feet. Soon the only thing that Britain will have in common with the Eastern countries whose education systems you so admire will be the fantastically large class sizes. Gone will be the nurturing, individual-focussed learning environment, replaced with cohort after cohort lining up for indoctrination. Is that really what you had in mind?
And what is it with your department's obsession with measuring everything?! It's as if you honestly believe quantifying something uniquely precipitates an answer- or even the best way forward. But statistics are an extremely blunt instrument- never more so than in education. For starters to compare anything objectively you need to be comparing the same things. (Didn't they teach you this in O' level Maths?) You can measure all you like, but if you then attempt a comparison between, say apples and oranges, or inner city schools and free schools, or comprehensives and private schools, pre schools and nurseries and even (this is the interesting bit) one nursery and another you will only ever obtain highly subjective results. Not something I would want to stack an entire policy - let alone a ministerial career on.
And just what are all these tests and measures for? Because all they do is deny the professionalism of teachers and the individuality of each situation. You see, I had a dyslexic four year old who knew the alphabet, could read and write several words from memory and who would have scored highly in pre school assessments. Yet two years later he was struggling and only internal professional observation would have picked up his difficulties. Then there is my autistic four year old who would have failed every test under the sun but developed his own written language despite not reading until age seven. By age nine he had the reading age of a thirteen year old. Neither fit the mould, and in that, neither are unusual. Isn't it about time we acknowledged and celebrated difference, and - as good Conservatives stopped attempting to centralise, control and regulate education further?
I think the crux of the matter here, is that like the student tackling a particularly difficult essay question you have responded with a knee jerk narrative rather than challenging the question. You have fallen foul of the most common error in higher level exams - and failed to analyse the wording, seeing what you want and expect to see - rather than what is really there. Unfortunately that won't secure you an A*.
Qu. "How can we improve Educational Outcomes of our young people and what constitutes a Good Education?"
You need to take a step back and rethink - and catch up with the vast majority of professionals involved in teaching - and nurturing our children. You see, Educational Outcomes actually have relatively little to do with formal "Education"and often very little to do with teaching. An uncomfortable thought perhaps... but they have everything to do with education. And the hard truth is that no amount of early formal intervention via your department, no new tests and analysis, inspections and grading can ever impact on any child's education in the way you intend.
Tests and statistics have their uses but should never override personal, professional opinion - and if they are actively impeding that opinion then there really is a problem. Persistently tinkering with the system and micro managing what should actually be managed with the infamous "light touch" approach (which should perhaps not have been applied to the Economy but that's another story) is going to end in tears. Children want to learn, and addressing the social impediments to learning and supporting families is a far more powerful tool for improving educational outcomes. And I'm not just talking grades here. Because Education is so much more than that. There's a whole world out there, and a virtual one running in parallel. Children learn in spite of teachers, schools, policies, exams and tests.
Education is not about the transfer of a finite, centrally determine body of knowledge to the next generation. It's not a simplistic imparting of knowledge, it's about enlightening, inspiring, encouraging and supporting. Meeting needs and chasing dreams.
Think beyond the obvious Mr Gove, or leave it to the professionals. Focussing on testing and targets helps no one, least of all our children.
And it won't get you an A*.