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 ›
When I first arrived in England in 2010, I was shocked by the then Education Secretary Michael Gove’s statement: “I’d like us to implement a cultural revolution just like the one they’ve had in China.” As a Chinese person, the shock was of course from his ‘admiration’ for the ‘cultural revolution’, but also from an English politician’s enthusiasm for learning from East Asian education systems.
What I learnt from my history class and what I heard from Chinese media were all about ‘learning from the West’. Now, there seems to have emerged a reverse tide in England, promoted by a series of international surveys, especially PISA, in which East Asian countries and regions consistently ranked top, much ahead of England. Read more ›
It is no secret that East Asian children excel at school. For instance, 78 percent of ethnic Chinese children obtain at least 5 A*-C GCSE grades, compared to a national average of just 60 percent. Yet, despite some very interesting qualitative work by Becky Francis, we still know very little about why this is the case.
I explore this issue in my new paper using PISA 2012 data from Australia. Just like their counterparts in the UK, Australian-born children of East Asian heritage do very well in school – particularly when it comes to maths. In fact, I show that they score an average of 605 points on the PISA 2012 maths test. This puts them more than two years ahead of the average child living in either England or Australia. They even outperform the average child in perennial top PISA performers like Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
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