Heads’ Roundtable Alternative to EBC

The Education Guardian yesterday (5.2.13) was so packed with interesting and stimulating articles that we hardly knew where to start writing today. Following on from Suzanne Moore’s piece in the newspaper last week and the number of below the line comments that it received, we really hope that this is the start of a renewed interest in educational matters from a wider perspective and audience than those who are steeped in education day in, day out.

As we said in a recent post, “What is education for?”

Even when we have a general consensus of response to such a question, we still need to keep moving and keep changing. Education is not and never should be static – such is the nature of our changing world. Having said that, there are some fundamental absolutes – such as child-focused education and the aspiration of life-long learning – that should be at the forefront of any education system. Our regular readers will already know our views on this and other issues relating to the development of all the intelligences.

Some of the articles in the newspaper yesterday challenge that very question – what is education for? With that in mind, we’ll comment on  some of these articles in a series of short posts.

As ever, your comments will be gratefully received.


Fiona Millar’s report on the Heads’ Roundtable:

The unstoppable rise of the Heads’ Roundtable

“Late last year, the education secretary, Michael Gove, conceded that, while determined to stick to his timetable for qualifications reform, if a “red light” flashed, he would take note of it 

It is hard to imagine a brighter “red light” than last week’s education select committee report on Gove’s plan to replace GCSEs with English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs). The committee dissected the challenges facing the coalition’s most contentious education reform and concluded that there were serious concerns about almost every aspect of the proposals.

With the clock now ticking towards the introduction of the new exams in 2015, a seemingly intransigent minister, opposition to his plans from many quarters and a Labour Party policy review not due to report for several more months – even seasoned commentators can’t quite predict where this process will end . . . .”

This is an important article and we’d ask that you read it in full by clicking here:


round table heads

We’ve mentioned this organisation previously.

Here is a group of disenchanted and disenfranchised professionals at the peak of their career who, amongst other key educational ideas, have a very sensible and cohesive alternative to the limited and exclusive English Baccalaureate that is currently on offer from the government.

A points based and accumulative learning process, with an emphasis on formative assessment and individual learning, is being suggested by the Heads’ Roundtable, whereby every subject has equal status.

“There is no need to exclude some subjects and no value to the nation in doing this – art and music are as intellectually rigorous as history and geography and one should not be intrinsically any less valuable than the other. Pupils don’t always have to have the same education, but they all have to have an excellent one. Education should be valued in its entirety, not just on that which is easily measured.”

So says Tom Sherrington, headteacher of the King Edward VI grammar school in Chelmsford.

This is remarkably similar to a proposal that 3Di Associates has been developing. We mention this because it’s important to note that there’s much similarity between the views of experienced progressive educationalists and it’s these voices that should be the driving force behind educational policy and practice, not the voices of those who’ve never worked in a school. We also mention it because, even amongst like-minded folks, there is room for positive and creative debate.

For instance, the Heads’ Roundtable suggest that in the future, students could receive extra points by learning about “personal development and service” through PSHE, Citizenship, Arts and Sports. Our view is that all of these should be an integral part of every child’s learning; a view that is being reiterated by the CBI and even HRH The Prince of Wales!

What is education for? It certainly isn’t about young people at the moment. As Vic Goddard, Principle of Passmores Academy in Essex says within the article,

“I’m now being put in a situation where I am forced to choose between the needs of my school and the needs of my pupils – and that is not right. We want to develop a system where that conflict doesn’t occur and where we can do the best for all our young people.”

Such a situation cannot be ethically viable. How can the concerns of a school and its development be opposed to the needs of the child? Yet this is the potential and existing outcome for students making their choices now. If a school wants to remain free from the claws of Ofsted, it needs to encourage as many young people as possible to take the subjects from the projected EBC rather than ones that suit their needs and interests.

This is not just hearsay. Recently, for instance, we heard that a bright, creative and capable young woman has only one choice to make at the end of Year 9. She has to choose between music, drama and art. All other subjects are chosen for her – and she and her school is not alone in making such limited decisions.

We welcome the development of the Heads’ Roundtable and look forward to the progress that this group makes, with a hope that Mr Gove can see this red light as well as the one he experienced at the education select committee in parliament last week.

For more on the Heads’ Roundtable proposal


About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/ or see our website at www.3diassociates.com.
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