Making Education Work – Recommendations: Part One

We’re continuing to look at “Making Education Work” – the title of a new report from an Independent Advisory Group chaired by Sir Roy Anderson.

Sir Roy Anderson

Sir Roy Anderson

This is an important report. Time and time again, independent and government sponsored education reviews say the same thing – that our education system is too focused on high-stakes exams, that independent learning is largely being ignored, that learning of key competences is dismissed as “soft” (and therefore less important) and that the level of power for the Secretary of State is counterproductive to the development of a consistent, sustainable and productive education system.

When will people from all sides of the political spectrum take note of these comments?

Today , we’re considering Recommendations One to Eight – recommendations for change. Tomorrow, we will review Recommendations Nine to Thirteen – recommendations for enhanced action.


Recommendation One

The creation of an independent body is recommended representing all key stakeholders (the teaching profession, the employers, higher education and political parties). The role of the independent body would be to provide wide representation and consistency, and mitigate disruption associated with the frequency of change in the role of the Secretary of State for Education.

We agree with the need for an independent body to oversee education in this country. We believe it should be representative of all stakeholders but there should be significant representation from professionals across all phases.

The recommendation also says that “responsibility for the secondary curriculum, its delivery and assessment should remain vested in government”. We would disagree with this. The government role in education should be an administrative role of funding for schools and overseeing the development of an independent body as outlined above. The whim of the individual Education Secretary has been allowed to direct policy and legislation for far too long –and not just Michael Gove.

Education Secretaries

Recommendation Two

The A level system should be slowly changed to a baccalaureate type system in which a broader curriculum (including core English, mathematics and the Extended Project qualification) which meets the requirements of a designed framework for key competences as outlined in recommendation 3, is provided for all post-16 learners.

Although we would agree with this statement, we would like it to go further. Not all young people would want to study A-Levels. An equivalent vocational based learning that has equal value to A-Levels needs to be considered as well. The key competences (see next recommendation) should apply to academic and vocational studies. We would also recommend a review of the 16+ exam to see if it’s relevant in a time when, by 2015, all young people will have to stay in education until the age of 18 (currently 17). We think it’s time to abolish these formal tests.

See our post on the CBI and their recommendations –

Recommendation Three

England must formally adopt a framework for key competences guided by recent international developments (such as the European Framework), which includes: communication in English and in foreign languages, competence in mathematics, science and technology and digital competence, learning to learn individually and as part of a team, personal, interpersonal and intercultural competence, including an understanding of codes of conduct and the importance of business ethics, a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, creativity and cultural awareness. These competencies must fall under the inspection framework and should be embedded throughout the curriculum and associated qualifications.

We completely agree with this recommendation. It would eradicate that false dichotomy of skills versus knowledge and give the right emphasis to the value of inter and intrapersonal skills – or what we would say was the development of all of the intelligences.

Furthermore, this framework of competences would support the development of knowledge to understanding. It is the understanding of knowledge, how it’s used and not merely the digestion of facts which is what both the PISA tests evaluate and what businesses want from prospective employees.

EinsteinWe wholly concur with the idea that these competences should be an integral part of an inspection framework – with the preferred inspection being peer led and reviewed by the Independent Education Body established.

Recommendation Four

Project work evidenced by the Extended Project and other qualifications should become a key requirement for university entrance.

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) should be for vocational as well as academic students, as it provides encouragement for independent learning based on the young persons’ interests. We have concerns about ‘grading’ pupils for their intrapersonal and interpersonal skills but would agree that completion of a personal profile (that includes a tracking system for the development of all the intelligences/competences) should be a requirement for university and vocational learning.

See the link for an example of our writing on personalised learning.

Recommendation Five

Non-cognitive skills and attributes such as team working, emotional maturity, empathy, and other interpersonal skills are as important as proficiency in English and mathematics in ensuring young people’s employment prospects. Assessment should reflect this reality and so investment is needed to support assessment experts in finding ways of reliably evidencing these skills.

We would advocate a tracking system to “assess” this. Our 3Di system of tracking involves pupils, parents and school staff and therefore would not be an additional burden for teachers. It’s vital that we introduce these systems of tracking assessment at the earliest opportunity.


Recommendation Six

A national careers service should be created and its advice aligned with the areas of the government’s growth strategy, to gear the education system more clearly towards the areas that support the country’s economic strategy and ambitions.

The demise of the careers service has been detrimental. Whilst we’d agree that this has to be geared towards the economic development of the country, we’d also like to see a significant emphasis on the young person’s interests, abilities and skills. Sir Ken Robinson talks about “Finding Your Element” and demonstrates how many successful people had their “element” ignored whilst at school. An integral part of any careers advice needs to reflect the individual needs as well as a societal need.

For more on “Finding Your Element” –

Recommendation Seven

An exchange of staff between schools and employers is essential to enhance teachers’ engagement with the worlds of business and industry. Employers and employer representative groups must collaborate with school and college leadership groups to design and implement a national scheme to promote this exchange.


Business and schools alliances aren’t new. They were introduced by the previous government but many were lost due to lack of funding. Many businesses also provided financial incentives for employees to become a school governor. This should once more be encouraged as part of a national scheme.

Recommendation Eight

Access to high quality teaching and learning is currently unequal – technology offers a way to resolve this – at least in part. Government should investigate virtual learning as a way to improve the quality of provision and make it more consistent for all students in public and private sectors.

We agree and other countries are already doing this. See our post on Chile (

Yesterday, there was a report on the technology and how it perpetuates the class divide in this country. There are still places where as many as 45% of children in a given school don’t have access to the internet at home. Significant investment needs to take place to ensure that all children have access to the internet outside school irrespective of their family income. We would argue that technology not only offers a way, but is a vital component for accessing quality teaching and learning, and thus ensuring access to the internet is an integral part of a policy to reduce the gap between the haves and have nots in our society.


Our next post will review the recommendations for “enhanced action”.

See also the manifesto from the British Chambers of Commerce – statement released today.,-says-bcc.html

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 or see our website at
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