Sunday, 25 August 2013

To Change or Not to Change: That is the Question

One question on yesterday's Any Questions concerned education and one of the panellists gave the view that teachers were fed up of Government interference. What the education system really needed was a period without change and teachers could assess how they and their pupils were doing. This was loudly applauded. Another panellist took the opposite view. If something was going wrong within the education system then it is the duty of the government to step in and correct it. This view was applauded too.

If something is wrong with the education system then maybe it is the Government's duty to step in and correct it. However, the National Curriculum was introduced in 1988 and my understanding is that the government has been regularly tinkering with it ever since. If 25 years of stepping in and correcting hasn't solved the problem, then why should we expect more of the same to help? And there is a problem - see my last blog in which I described how a top grade in an English GCSE does not give any indication of that pupil's grammatical ability.

If the question is how do I measure a pupil's command of English grammar then I cannot look at GCSE results. If any government wants to get this question answered then it will have to step in and I am sure that teachers would welcome government involvement if they were listening to what the teachers wanted, but they don't want government interference. It would be really nice if teachers could be left alone as we have a situation in which there is tremendous pressure on our teachers to get results regardless of whether it does the pupil any good (in this case regardless of whether a pupil has a good command of English grammar).

We have a system in which tremendous effort goes into helping those pupils who have a chance to improve school statistics. Well done to your child if they fall into this category but it is not so good if they don't. Schools want to improve their statistics and if that means putting a lot of effort into a small group, to the detriment of the rest, then they will do it. Schools need to climb their league table. We have a school in Lancaster that is at risk of closing, partly because of their league position and just maybe they haven't played the game correctly. Whether we like it or not we have a 'dog eat dog' educational system in which some important matters have been tossed aside for the sake of conformity.

It doesn’t sound like the creation of greater division caused by the creation of academies would be the answer. However if we take the Wikipedia definition then 'Academies, while publicly funded, have a significant degree of autonomy in deviating from the National Curriculum.'  If that's seen as a good thing, then surely the solution isn't to create more academies. Rather, why not just give every school more autonomy? Then they can all benefit.

Change the world

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