The “Making Education Work” report suggests eight key action points for a change in the education system.
Today, we are reviewing the recommendations for “enhanced action”.
Whilst this report is looking specifically at A-Levels and Post 16 education, we think that many of the recommendations have an impact for primary education too. Whilst we’re not suggesting that five year olds should have a clear idea about their career pathway, they should be encouraged to develop the key competences at an early age, and should definitely be encouraged and given the opportunities to think for themselves and be a director of their own learning in conjunction with well-appointed professionals who understand child development – in theory and in practice.
The roles of BIS and DfE should be reviewed by government to ensure much closer working relationships, and a shared set of objectives for the education system as a whole. The case for placing all education responsibilities, including apprenticeships, within one department should be examined.
We would agree with this but we’d extend the emphasis to other departments too. We’d also like to see more holistic planning and policy development at a local level too. Housing and health play an integral part in the ability of the learner to learn. The objectives for learning should be shared and acted upon by all departments that have responsibility for developing and maintaining the wellbeing of our children and young people.
We should learn from curriculum design and content initiatives in high performing countries, as judged by international rankings (e.g. PISA), commission further research to investigate why England’s performance has stagnated and other countries have improved, and implement policies to increase our performance relative to other countries.
This report has already pointed to the possible reasons why this country under-performs compared with others – the total disregard for the importance of developing all of the intelligences and competences, concentrating on the academic and the intellectual areas alone. No longer should Michael Gove stand there and legitimise his choices by referring to Singapore. The nurturing of the individual and the encouragement of personalised learning is a significant part of the “Teach Less Learn More” policy that is evidently reaping the rewards of a slow and thoughtful redesign of education in Singapore. Of course we can learn from other more successful countries and prevent ourselves from adopting piecemeal extracts from their work rather than look at their success in its entirety.
Greater focus on the quality and recognition of vocational learning for all students is necessary to increase understanding and acceptance of the diversity of routes available to learners, and to enable them to acquire the skills necessary to support progression to further or higher education and employment.
We agree. Labour talks about the “forgotten 50%” with passion and empathy. Yet, there is no significant vision coming from either main party in this country as to how to give our young people an education system that is meaningful to them and values them if they don’t happen to be academically inclined.
Forgotten 50%? 50%? These figures are accurate so how on earth can we sit back and continue to partake in an education system that is essentially failing 50% of its “clients”?
We can’t wait for action on this. We have to act now. Urgently.
Thinking about the past – for the future, for the “Forgotten 50%”: https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/finally-we-have-them-the-oecds-first-adult-pisa-results/
In association with our second recommendation for a broader curriculum, the cognitive skills of application, analysis and evaluation should be delivered and assessed in all qualifications, in line with the methodology adopted for mathematics in the current A level reform programme.
We would agree with this too, although our knowledge of the mathematics curriculum for A-Level is somewhat limited. However, this statement reiterates our point about the PISA tests. They are designed to ensure that regurgitation of facts is an insufficient indicator of learning. It is the employment of knowledge that is important. Young people should be encouraged to think for themselves, to hypothesise, to analyse and develop their hypotheses. Is this really happening in education today? Is it happening for our younger children?
Here’s an example of a school that encourages children to “Learn without Limits: https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/teaching-schools-wroxham-and-learning-without-limits/
Government should continue the development and promotion of programmes to encourage the most highly qualified graduates to enter the teaching profession.
We would agree with the need to have highly qualified people in education but it’s more important to have highly capable people in education. In Finland, those that enter into the profession have qualifications but it’s their capability to teach and to learn that secures them a job. The capacity for learning as a teacher is vital. Therefore we would argue that professional development and, as in Finland, the opportunity for further “qualifications” once you have become a teacher is more important than having “highly qualified” people in educational jobs.
The “Teach First” programme as recently witnessed in the BBCs “Tough Young Teachers” has significant flaws. A high level of intellect does not make you able to impart your knowledge for the understanding of your pupils. Some of the most intellectually capable teachers are unsuccessful because they simply don’t know how to transfer their knowledge into learning for young people.
We would argue that a review of all forms of teacher training should take place, with greater emphasis on child and human development as an integral part of teachers’ journeys of learning.
So where now?
This report should be reviewed by all who are currently participating in reviews of education. We assume that the CBI are working with Sir Roy Anderson and his colleagues who wrote this report but it would be exciting to consider the potential of other report writers working together to look at these recommendations more holistically.
Robin Alexander and his team at Cambridge have spent years doing an extensive review of primary education. None of his recommendations have been fully adopted by either government or the opposition. Linking his report with this one and the “First Steps” report from the CBI is something that needs to happen now.
Mike Tomlinson’s forgotten review of secondary education should also be reconsidered as an integral part of reshaping secondary education in this country. His work on vocational education is as relevant now as it was when the “Tomlinson Report” was first published in 2005. Nearly a decade later, and there’s still 50% of our young people who need more from what is being offered to them in terms of education.
Compass and the National Union of Teachers are also involved in an Education Inquiry as is the RSA and the ACSL. The recommendations from all of these reviews need to be unified and the first recommendation from this report needs to be actioned at the earliest opportunity – prior to the legislation that will eventually be needed.
Most importantly though, we must now embrace everything that these reports have said about education, particularly about how important it is to develop the skills, competences and intelligences that go beyond the narrowed interpretation of education to which we are currently subjected.
It’s time to act. We have the evidence. We need to support our children and young people immediately.