“We have a duty to do more than simply provide an academic backbone” says Rob Williams, the head of Yateley Manor school, Hampshire, in an article in today’s Telegraph.
The only strange or startling thing about this statement is that anyone sees the need to make it in the year 2013.
Yet make it he, Mr Williams, and we, 3D Eye, simply must, since so many continue to stress the absolute priority of success in high stakes tests and exams – as far as education in England is concerned – often to the exclusion of all else.
We have a duty . . .
Prep schools have a duty, primary schools have a duty, secondary schools have a duty – even the further and higher education sectors have a duty . . . not that you’d know it if you care to read some of the comment that swirls around the Internet.
According to certain reactionary would-be pundits and self-styled gurus, anyone who dares to query centuries-old precepts and assumptions about education is more than a radical and a threat to the status quo – they’re an onanist and a ‘prog’. That’s right – a prog.
So what’s progressive about the Prep School Baccalaureate? The website of psbacc.org says the following:
Welcome to The Prep School Baccalaureate
The Prep School Baccalaureate (PSB) is a two-year programme of study for pupils in Year 7 and Year 8 that aims to prepare them for the challenges of life as young adults in senior schools academically, personally, socially, culturally and spiritually. It does so by actively developing and tracking knowledge, skills and attitudes.
PSB is not a part of the International Baccalaureate Organisation, and it is not a commercial enterprise. It offers a framework for assessment to provide a more complete record of a pupil’s achievement and is the result of collaboration between a number of leading UK preparatory schools.
PSB provides a powerful vehicle for prep schools intent on rigorous, high academic standards coupled with a broad and balanced curriculum. It helps schools to promote actively vital skills in independent learning, in the appropriate use of technology, and in critical thinking. The PSB also promotes the development of leadership and team-working in pupils.
For senior schools the PSB provides an excellent means of assessment for pupils. It is a modern and progressive alternative to the traditional route of Common Entrance. (“Progressive”! Prog!)
How [do] we give them global awareness, maturity, confidence, humility and poise? It has never been purely by chance. However, it is often hard to identify the key moments or elements of programmes of study that are geared to nurturing each characteristic. Was it planned? Have they absorbed our ethos simply through osmosis? Has every pupil received good quality feedback as to how they are progressing in the skills that underpin their learning and improve their prospects of achieving their goals in life?
Mr Williams goes on to say
For a long time I have followed with interest baccalaureate models that encompass breadth, in terms of curriculum content, and importantly models that openly and rigorously nurture and teach key life skills.
How do we develop the characteristics that are now often found to be so lacking in many young adults? Can our pupils cope with change, learn and adapt their opinions when participating in group discussion whilst also being equally comfortable as a sole operator? Can they communicate effectively to a range of audiences?
Successful professionals will need to call upon multiple skills to cope in demanding global careers.
Yes – multiple skills and multiple intelligences.
The Telegraph article also says this:
More than 30 leading schools are preparing to adopt a “more rounded” course aimed at testing children’s creative skills alongside academic ability.
The new Prep School Baccalaureate (PSB) – introduced for the first time this year – is intended as an alternative to the 100-year-old Common Entrance exam which is traditionally sat by pupils moving into fee-paying senior schools.
The course, which is taken over two years, will test pupils in all activities, such as music, drama and sport, as well as achievements in the classroom.
It will also look at a child’s aptitudes in areas such as independent learning and leadership.
Stephen Jones, warden of St Edward’s School, Oxford, and a trustee of the PSB, said more than 30 other schools were “actively in discussion” over the new course.
Speaking before a conference at St Edward’s on Monday staged to drive forward the baccalaureate, he said: “This is about getting children outside the straitjacket of Common Entrance and getting them to be more open-minded in their learning.
“One of the things that prep schools complain about is that the final year is very focused on passing Common Entrance exams and it’s not educationally very exciting for pupils.”
Rob Williams, chairman of the PSB, said: ‘We know that the world and the job market facing our current generation of pupils is so much more competitive and demanding than the one we faced in our early 20s.
“We have a duty to do more than simply provide a strong academic backbone, which still appears to be the only recognised measurement of success in our schools used by both the government and the media.”
He said the new qualification provided pupils with an “understanding of the world in which we live, an ability to work and empathise with the needs of others and an ability to communicate effectively”.
If this sounds to you, dear reader, like the rants of onanistic Trots, then please consider how closely these thoughts match those which were put forward in the Observer yesterday, by those expressed at WISE 2013, by those expressed by the heads of Eton and Wellington colleges, and those expressed by the Confederation of British Industry in its recent report on education.
Graeme Paton, Education Editor of the Telegraph, is doing a great job in highlighting the key issues confronting education in England, and the harm being done to children throughout this country.