The French have a saying for it: ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’; the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Today the Government announced the Workload Challenge. For most teachers and school leaders, this phrase is a way of life. They view their workload as nothing less than a challenge! Hardly surprising, as they spend many of the 50 to 60 hours they work each week ‘struggling to stay on top of piles of incident reports, over-detailed lesson-plan templates, health and safety forms, departmental updates, training requests and so on’.
So says Nick Clegg, whose wider aim is to apply to the public sector the principles that (he claims) have Read more ›
For most of my years working in and around FE and Adult education I have not spent too much time thinking about GCSEs. Although GCSE re-sits account for a large cohort in the 16-18 sector, we at the IOE’s NRDC (National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy) have spent more time with the Skills for Life qualifications and working to develop and then bed in Functional Skills.
But following Alison Wolf’s report published in the early years of the current administration, GCSEs are the only game in town. I recently attended a consultation at BIS concerning the new English and Mathematics GCSEs and their impact on post-16 education. As I am sure regular Blog readers will know, there are changes to the content of both mathematics and English GCSE exams and these will be introduced for 16-18 year olds from 2016/17. Alongside this, all 16-18 students without A*-C English or mathematics now have to study for GCSE or an approved ‘stepping stone’ qualification. By 2020, the ‘ambition’ is for all adults (who now seem to be those over 19) to be on a GCSE path. As the DfE/BIS puts it ‘GCSEs are as right for adults as they are for Read more ›
In her recent appearance before the Select Committee on Education, Nicky Morgan said that “we must not be shy about talking about fundamental British values.” She added that schools should promote values like mutual respect and equality between girls and boys; and that ideals such as democracy and tolerance must be “woven” into the curriculum.
If these are British values, I’m a Dutchman. The ones she mentions are those of liberal democracy. They are prized as much in Helsinki or Washington as they are in London. It is excellent that the new Secretary of State is backing them in our schools and that she is not giving them lip service, but suggesting how this should happen. She is right that weaving them into the curriculum is the way forward.
A lot turns, of course, on where she’s taking this. There are two possibilities. One is that she follows her predecessor in Read more ›
The news of a proposed re-make of Dad’s Army preceded by only a few days David Cameron’s announcement of a National Teaching Service: a ‘corps’ of ‘elite teachers’ to be deployed into ‘failing schools’ at short notice. Both depend on stereotypes too obvious for comment. If Bill Nighy was an all-too-predictable casting as Sergeant Wilson, it’s easy to imagine the images that a National Teaching Service might conjure.
In so far as it’s a good idea, I’ll claim some credit for it, since the idea of taking a more strategic approach to the deployment of teachers was one I developed at the beginning of 2013 in my contribution to The Tail. In so far as it is a bad idea as now developed, of course, I’ll distance myself from it, and note (for the avoidance of doubt, the next clause is dripping with irony) that it has lost something in the movement from elegant inception to Read more ›
The party conference season is over and it is election-preparation time: before the end of the school year, voters will have gone to the polls and a new government will be in office. There are sharp choices to be made for all major parties: whether to offer consolidation, recognising the radical changes to curriculum, assessment and school structures introduced since the Academies Act of 2010, or to strike boldly out for more change. For the Conservatives, celebrating at their conference that more children now attend good and outstanding schools, there must be a temptation to consolidate, to build bridges with teachers and make Michael Gove’s legacy work, rather than unleashing yet more potentially disruptive change. For the Liberal Democrats, claiming credit for the pupil premium which offers schools additional resources for poorer pupils, the aim is both to ensure that they get the electoral credit for an imaginative approach to school funding and to identify a further totemic policy to carry forward. Perhaps choices are most acute for Labour: Read more ›