Will Gove's ebacc destroy Britain's creative industries?

Henry Stewart's picture
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Anger is growing among Britain's creative sectors about Michael Gove's attempts to move the education curriculum back to what was taught in grammar schools in the 1950s. A survey by NSEAD this year has found that 50% of art and design teachers reported that the numbers taking art and design at Key Stage 4 had reduced and 57% said that funding for their departments had been cut.

Gove may regard art and design as inferior subjects but they are the bedrock of Britain's creative industries - one area in which Britain is still a world leader. The most successful company of recent times, Apple, is famously built not just on design but on the work of a British designer, Jonathan Ive. Will Gove's changes prevent the Jonathan Ive's of the future succeeding?

The critique of Gove's short-sighted approach is put brilliantly by the artists Bob and Roberta Smith on their website and I copy their letter below:

Letter to Michael Gove MP ~ 25th July 2011 

Feel free to copy this letter, and post or email it govem@parliament.uk to Michael Gove

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Secretary of State for Education
Department for Education
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BT

In memory of Lucien Freud and Amy Winehouse who died this weekend.

Your destruction of Britain's ability to draw, design and sing.

Dear Michael Gove

Art, images, artifacts, songs; culture are the principal means by which Human beings define themselves.

Michael, a look at your tie and shirt combination in images of you online informs me you are not a visually minded person. You do not care how you look. Like many men of your generation you probably disdain the modern media's obsession with 'image'.

Look around you. What do you see? Everything is made. Everything has been fashioned by human beings who have considered all aspects of what they have made. Human beings consider the function in the system of commerce of what they make but at the same time their work creates images. Image is everything; visual worth, commercial value, moral virtue, authority and integrity.

From birth Human beings seek to understand, find their place in society and control their worlds. Through looking and understanding the child interprets the world. Give a child a piece of paper, a brush and some colour and you put them in control. Children's art is so appealing because they have no problem with being in control of images. As school progresses, poor teaching in some schools, impresses on the child that they are not in control. Not only are they not in control, but they are the most insignificant cog in a system of control in which they may never play an important part. From Galileo to Darwin, from Caravaggio to Amy Winehouse creativity is rebellion.  Even Free Market economists recognise that wealth creation is based on questioning, innovation and improvement. Creativity is non-acceptance of the status quo, and rejection of the Academy.

Your initiative awards conformity and will cause stagnation.  Ebacc creates orthodoxy where your un-evidenced view of what will be important to future generations is given an unnatural emphasis. Ebacc is more suited to a planned economy.   The rebellious child, the innovator, the inventor, the engineer, the artist, the architect clings on to their prowess with paper, does art at school, goes to art school, studies design or enrols at Imperial College and contributes to the library of images and forms. The relationship between sheets of blank paper, pencils and innovation is undeniable. Art should be the centre of a National curriculum based on creative thinking. Pity the obedient child in a system of Education obsessed with ‘vocational skills'. He or she caves in. The child who becomes inhibited is inducted into the mediocre majority of the visually illiterate of which you, Michael Gove, (in your ill fitting shirt and unmatched tie) are a part.  But even those who have creativity beaten out of them by educational systems of the type you advocate, need, enjoy and consume images. Ebacc least serves, what people in the media call ‘content provision'.

The ability to fill ‘new media' with images will determine who has power. Everything is made. Everything is visual. Art, yes but also design, money, numbers: even the ebb and flow of commerce has to be made visual. The English landscape is a creation of human design. In your language 'Brand Britain' is visual and cultural. In recent years China has opened 400 schools of art and design. Your Government has whittled Britain's once diverse, varied culture of schools of Art to just 12 institutions. This reduction is a disaster for British design, British commerce, British Art and Britain's ability to compete in the world. Does Britain's image mean nothing to you? Your reforms will cripple future British design. In advance of your reforms Roehampton University has withdrawn its courses training art and design teachers, this is disgraceful.

Take Art out of the National curriculum and belittle art in your distorted Ebacc system of categorisation of significant subjects and you will emasculate British Culture. Where are our future designers, architects, craftsmen, engineers, technicians, software designers and mathematicians going to come from if no one can draw? Your thinking and the thinking of your Government is provincial. You want to jump onto a 'Far Eastern' bandwagon that has already left town. The crazy dream of turning the UK economy into Singapore is not available to you. You should realise Britain is amazing. In cultural, visual, democratic, musical, design, product development and literary terms Britain is a giant. Art is now part of the language of freedom and democracy.  Repressive, ideological regimes restrict Artists. You must realise that art is not a choice made at secondary school rather we are all cultural beings.

Your creation of Ebacc promotes modern languages. This is a good thing. On holiday in Italy you will have visited regional museums.  The Italians cram their children into museums, they say, ‘look, this is Italy, this is your culture, your are Italian'.  Human beings have culture.  Your government's adoption of the last government's ‘Mandelsonian' Browne review with is desire to monetize the episteme and its assault on the Arts and Humanities coupled with, your inclination to remove Art from the national curriculum is deeply concerning. You will be opposed by all people interested in Art, design, free speech, freedom and democracy  and probably also by a few bankers and investors interested in British products and exports who are concerned about the colour of their money.  Michael Gove, ditch Ebacc. It is mistaken; Education is about sewing seeds not setting standards for the shape of bananas.

Bob and Roberta Smith - Artist
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Comments

Melissa Benn's picture
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 07:26

I am intrigued as to what members of the government would make of this eloquent broadside. It might - it should - make them uncomfortable, particularly the criticisms of what is happening to art colleges etc and the interesting comparison with the tiger economies that Gove and co are so in thrall to.

But reading it, I realised that the artists who wrote it are missing an elitist subtext of this government's reforms concerning our schools. The Tory front bench would not dream of criticising art and design in the private or selective state sector. On the contrary, as anyone who has visited the art rooms of these schools, will realise: drawing and design and visual imagery are a key part of their curriculum and their self image. No, what Michael Gove is all about is stopping what he believes to be substandard versions of these activities in what he believes to be substandard schools. The poor must be drilled in the basics before they enjoy the extras. Depth not breadth, as one of the academy chains call it. The elite's thinking would go something like this: why teach a child who cannot yet read properly about the importance of imagery? Why bother with DT when numeracy is not up to scratch? At bottom, it's an impatience with the limited and unequal resources that they, as key figures in the political/governing class, are responsible for distributing - and now withdrawing. Depressing.

Fiona Millar's picture
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 08:23

Indeed. Here is a link the the Drawing Schools at Eton.
And here is what the boys are offered:
"The Drawing Schools have facilities for painting, drawing, printmaking, computer graphics and digital photography. There are also two purpose-built 3D studios that have facilities for ceramics and sculpture in wood, metal and plaster. There are opportunities for art within the timetable, however, boys are also encouraged to use the studios in their free time and the Drawing Schools are open at weekends. The department is very well equipped and the departmental staff are there to facilitate projects that are ambitious, individualistic and technically exciting. The Drawing Schools stage regular exhibitions and there is a library that also serves as a lecture room."


Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 09:04

An article in the TES (28 October 2011) raised similar concerns about the status of Design and Technology under the heading "Things go from bad to worse for design and technology: First it was hit by the EBac, and now its compulsory status is at risk."

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6124278

Ben Taylor's picture
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 10:00

Michael Gove recently:

"Michael Gove: I underline to the hon. Lady that the principal accountability measure for schools is five GCSEs, including English and mathematics. Among the other three GCSEs or equivalents, there can be a number of applied, technical and vocational areas. The English baccalaureate is a useful accountability measure and raises aspirations, but it is not the be-all and end-all and it has never been the opinion of the Government that it should be. We recognise achievement in all its forms, and it is incumbent on everyone, on both sides of the House, to celebrate the achievement of those who succeed vocationally, as she did in the first half of her question."

available on his MP site: http://www.michaelgove.com/

The main reason Gove has said that he introduced ebacc was to increase provision for poor academic students, who were being short changed with GCSE options that barred them from progessing to higher education. He is not against vocational education and is also reforming it.

What is your proposal to ensure poor academic children can have the same choices as those in out top public schools?

Allan Beavis's picture
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 10:15

What is you our proposal, Ben, to ensure that poor un-academic children can have the same choice as those in our state schools? You are saying there might be solutions for the deserving poor but the undeserving poor can rot somewhere, presumably so that their frustrations and sense of injustice can boil over in riots when Bumbling Boris can stumble on to centre stage to denounce them and talk about boils erupting and spoiling the gleaming spired landscape of Toryland?

Ben Taylor's picture
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 10:23

Allan, I am not sure what you are getting at. Gove has said that ebacc is not the only measure of success, children who wish to study other less academic options can do that. He is establighing ways for that to happen such as making vocational education more aligned to obtaining work and offering different routes such as studio schools and UTC. There is nothing to stop schools in whole or part emphasising "non ebacc" provision.

I don't know why Bob and Roberta Smith don't get involved with an established school to do that or even offer a free school for arts specialism.

Allan Beavis's picture
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 12:40

Ben

Gove has said a lot of things, which haven't been' let's say, entirely true. And he and his department and cronies are in the habit of concealing things they don't want people to know about so you will forgive me for my scepticism.

I expect the government can keep their hands clean by letting the Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/8854460/Mickey-Mouse-courses-to-be-... do the real job of the dirty work by taking the mickey out of Mickey Mouse qualifications as they are being axed from league tables. You tell me Ben how you figure vocational qualifications are being taken as an equal measure of success as academic ones.

Ben Taylor's picture
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 13:06

Not sure how to answer this Allan - people who want to evaluate academic potential and progression after 16 and 19 will pay a lot of attention to the ebacc. For those who want to know how well vocational qualifications are delivered maybe we need another measure, perhaps % employment is going to be one? Just a suggestion.

Actually vocational qualifications can be in a league table they are just going to have to meet tougher DfE criteria which focus on progression.

Allan Beavis's picture
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 13:53

Why not write to the DfE with your suggestions then Ben? I'm sure they will take them as seriously as the Telegraph focus on "progression". I'm sure there would be a lot more progression if the depleted education budget were enhanced by the Atlantic Bridge cabal being forced to hand over the billions they squandered in the form of increased taxes and stricter regulation. But then John Cridland of the CBI, which represents banks, has already said this is "bonkers".

I wonder if Gove would tell us how many of the bankers with their inflated bonuses are his and Gideon Osborne's Atlantic Bridge cronies?

Davis Lewis's picture
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 22:58

What does unacademic mean? Who decides that a child is unacademic? Do we not all possess creative and academic potential and abilities. Why do children have to be one or the other.

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 02/11/2011 - 08:43

You're right. They don't. Which is why current government policy which separates academic/vocational, hard/soft, BTEC/GCSE with barely disguised contempt for "non-academic" learning and skills is so misguided and detrimental

Mark Luscombe's picture
Wed, 02/11/2011 - 17:58

I think there has been a vital misconception here, namely that the number of children gaining 5A*-Cs in the Ebac subjects somehow equates to the proportion of children being offered the option to study those subjects.

Rather than use final outcomes to judge provision we need to know just what proportion of al. children are not being offered the EBAC options at the end of Key-Stage 3.

Then we need to know how many children are taking these options up.

We cold also evaluate the proportion of schools in deprived areas that stop academic children having the option of Ebac subjects.

Until we have that information making judgements about how many children are being allegedly short changed by the system based on a small sample (only 4 out of a possible 7 grades in a narrow range of subjects that don't even encompass some traditionally academic ones) of final outcomes is daft. Yet that is what the government is doing.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 03/11/2011 - 13:56

It's not just creative subjects and practical subjects like Design and Technology which are at threat. Non-cognitive skills, essential for future employability and life chances, are also threatened with being sidelined.

Young Enterprise, the charity that encourages young people to set up businesses in schools, warned that the emphasis on core academic skills would not improve young people’s employability skills.

Ian Smith, Young Enterprise chairman, told the Telegraph in July 2011, “The Department of Education is now adopting an alarmingly narrow focus on academic skills and exams…What I see in the new Government’s approach is a lack of focus on the skills, attitudes and behaviours that young people actually need to be successful in their working lives; skills like teamwork, presentation, reliability, honesty, integrity, and punctuality, which employers look for in new recruits.”

This warning appeared just a short time after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development published "Reforming education in England"* which expressed concern about the testing regime in England. The report said that "non-cognitive skills are not measured by tests but have a significant impact on students' future educational career and life outcomes." OECD also said "extensive testing and grading of cognitive skills could actually 'crowd out' non-cognitive skill accumulation in classrooms".

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/yourbusiness/8661915/Employers-call-f...

http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/economics/oecd-economic-surveys-united-king... (not available freely on the internet)

Davis Lewis's picture
Thu, 03/11/2011 - 19:01

Its not just this government which has been making this distinction. Our class sysem has propagated this myth for many years with a two tiered system which caters for the academics(brains) and the non-academics(brawn - fodder). Its funny that so many of our academics are more than useful with a drill or hammer as we see when they embark on home improvement projects. Unfortunately our system with its values dissuades working class people from developing their intellect by telling them that academics is not for 'the likes of you'.
Both the Vocational and academic curricula should be for all raher than this 'either or' approach.

By the way I am still waiting to hear the Etons and Westminsters complaints about the curriculum lacking relevance. OK maybe they are not trained to run our banks or economy properly but that's another story.

JimC's picture
Sun, 06/11/2011 - 08:41

"What I see in the new Government’s approach is a lack of focus on the skills, attitudes and behaviours that young people actually need to be successful in their working lives; skills like teamwork, presentation, reliability, honesty, integrity, and punctuality, which employers look for in new recruits."

There is no reason why schools cannot encourage reliability, presentation and punctuality through school rules and a pastoral system - isn't this the sort of thing form tutors and year heads do?

Honesty seems like a personality trait to me. Again there is no reason why schools cannot encourage honesty but you surely cannot advocate lessons dedicated to such things?

Finally teamwork. If someone is trying to learn how to work in a team surely the worst thing you can do is put them in a team with someone who is as ignorant about teamwork as they are. If the suggestion is that we should get children working with an established team of adults then fine but this isn't what the suggestion is it.

JimC's picture
Sun, 06/11/2011 - 09:35

My problem with this article is that the title suggests that Britains creative industry will be destroyed if we focus on academic subjects instead of the arts.

However:

"Of the arts internships advertised on the BIS-sponsored website, 92% were unpaid. Seventy-seven per cent of advertised fashion internships were unpaid, and 76% of PR internships were unpaid. Half of the media internships were unpaid"

This seems to suggest that far from being in danger the creative industry is in robust health and able to cherry pick the best from a large talent pool. If you want to argue that the we ought to expose children to the Arts because it is a nice thing to do then fine but lets not pretend that an industry that is able to get young people working for nothing is under threat from Micheal Gove.

JimC's picture
Sun, 06/11/2011 - 11:52

Apologies I forgot to reference the quote used above. The full article can be found using the link below.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/nov/04/interns-work-paid-lawyers

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 07/11/2011 - 15:21

Art and design educators at Birmingham City University wrote to the Education Committee which looked at the EBacc. They said: “If the English Baccalaureate as it is proposed is imposed on schools, lasting damage will occur to the cultural education of thousands [of] pupils... In a complex and culturally diverse society it is essential that cultural understanding and global perspectives are fostered through education. The arts subjects are uniquely placed to make crucial inputs to this understanding.”

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmeduc/851/85...

JimC's picture
Tue, 08/11/2011 - 20:49

1. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

2. I'm not sure that etching and making collages is the most efficient way for children develop cultural understanding and global perspectives.

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 09/11/2011 - 12:21

JimC's crass observation here mirrors what has always been the Conservative's dislike and discouragement of the arts. I remember Margaret Thatcher's disdain for it when I was growing up and her relentless pushing of young people to go off and study subjects that would translate as employable skills in industry and commerce.

The arts has a lot more to do with etching and making collages as JimC will know but reducing creative subjects in such a dismissive and contemptuous way provides a clue as to how the government are once again sidelining creativity as being unimportant to – what, the free market? – or society. Well Thatcher told us there was no such thing as society, so I wonder what one of my neighbours, who worked for many years as an art therapist, would think when she spent her life teaching art to troubled young people and to disabled children. Her etching and making collages were proven to have helped stabilise and rehabilitate young offenders – in some cases, these kids went to develop a talent they never knew they had. More importantly, it provided a focus for their frustrations and expressing them helped them to deal with their problems.

Appreciation of Art – and the Arts - should be embedded in the school curriculum along with other important subjects such as Science, Maths, English, Humanities. The arts mirrors what it is to be human and to be human has always been to create, question and share. This is what artists do.

Internships in the arts is nothing new. We actually depend on it because a lot of arts institutions are under funded and are always struggling. Companies are often under resourced, with everyone mucking in and hierarchies are ignored in favour of getting the job done. Compare this with internships in wealthy major corporations or sections of the media, where the charge of “exploitation” could be more fairly levelled.

Of course the arts will suffer in the future if the audience and appreciation of it is not taught and encouraged in schools. And not just newly created example of the arts in drama, design, music….but also the legacy of the great works that we already have around us in a civilized world. Emerging economies such as China are investing into educating their young into the arts, so that they can take their place amongst nations whose appreciation of the arts is embedded into their society and so that they can ensure that the next generation of Chinese won’t carry on legacy of the horror that was the Cultural Revolution. China’s leaders today are only just beginning to once again embrace and trust what the creative community have to offer, at the same time as Gove seeks to diminish them.

JimC's picture
Wed, 09/11/2011 - 21:37

I'm not actually against the arts nor am I against the idea that we should expose children to the Arts because it is a worthwhile thing to do in itself.

I am against nonsensical suggestions that what children are exposed to in secondary school Art lessons is serving some higher purpose such as developing their 'cultural understanding and global perspectives' or developing 'creativity' which is 'vital to our economy'.

Keith Turvey's picture
Wed, 09/11/2011 - 21:59

Fine so explain in what way you think the arts are 'worthwhile' JimC if it's not about these things?????

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 09/11/2011 - 22:41

It is nonsensical as well as blinkered to see the arts - as you appear to do - as having no higher purpose and unconnected to the universe in which it exists. Here are some rebuttals -

1 Artists have been politically active. Just two examples - Giuseppe Verdi and Italian unification. He was also socially conscious

2 The Arts at the very least contribute to tourism. Put bluntly, West End shows pull in tourist dollars. Design? Graphic Design, Fashion...millions generated for the economy.

3 Culture is not a stand alone phenomenon. It is inspired by political movements, social changes, other branches of the arts. It is both a mirror and a dialogue about the human condition. Why do you think great art has survived? Shakespeare? Mozart? Da Vinci? Amy Winehouse?

Keith Turvey's picture
Wed, 09/11/2011 - 22:25

So etchings and collages is your view of the arts? That seems somewhat impoverished to me.

JimC's picture
Thu, 10/11/2011 - 06:31

"Fine so explain in what way you think the arts are ‘worthwhile’ JimC if it’s not about these things?????"

I think the pursuit of knowledge and exposing children to the best the past has to offer is the best reason for educating children. When we start saying that children should have a particular 'global perspective' or we make 'creative thinking' the purpose of Art lessons then I think we run into trouble because I don't think school should be about trying to indoctrinate children with certain 'perspectives' or a certain definition of 'creative thinking'.

"It is nonsensical as well as blinkered to see the arts – as you appear to do – as having no higher purpose and unconnected to the universe in which it exists. Here are some rebuttals -"

I'm not insulting the Arts I'm questioning whether Art lessons in schools are serving any higher purpose than getting children to 'think creatively' by doing some drawings of a sweet wrapper and making a collage.

"Why do you think great art has survived? Shakespeare? Mozart? Da Vinci? Amy Winehouse?"

Amy Winehouse - don't you think this is a premature?

"So etchings and collages is your view of the arts? That seems somewhat impoverished to me."

I'm talking about Art lessons in Secondary school.

Allan Beavis's picture
Thu, 10/11/2011 - 08:22

So impoverished thinking it is JimC!

You are intent on reducing Art to etchings and collages in school - Bob and Roberta Smith's open letter is a plea for all forms of creativity to be encouraged in schools. Art is a great deal more than drawing, JimC - it embraces the whole spectrum of creative expression. Neither is a work of art dependent on volume - so, yes - Amy Winehouse has left a legacy in her short body of work. Whether history will judge her as great as Maria Callas or Ella Fitzgerald remains to be seen, but an Artist she undoubtedly was. Quality not quantity.

I find your statement that "the pursuit of knowledge and exposing children to the best the past has to offer is the best reason for educating children" extremely bizarre. Applied to the Arts, this is utter nonsense. Art doesn't exist in the past, but in the present, where it continues created and where works of the past are both re-interpreted studied. It is not a historical relic but a living part of our present. So it is with education - it has to be relevant to the present and contribute to the future. And a global perspective is extremely important - we live in an increasingly globalized world in which many political, social, cultural and economic barriers are breaking down.

Where is your evidence that schools are going about “indoctrinating” children with “certain perspectives” or “creative thinking”? One might say the same thing about schools forcing children to learn Latin because such indoctrination might render them hankering for the past and unable to deal with the modern world. Should education, in fact, not be about enforcing a narrow and impoverished perspective of society on children but to opening up their minds to question, learn and interpret the world they live in?

JimC's picture
Thu, 10/11/2011 - 19:38

"You are intent on reducing Art to etchings and collages in school"

For pity sake I'm not talking about what I want I'm describing what happens.

"I find your statement that “the pursuit of knowledge and exposing children to the best the past has to offer is the best reason for educating children” extremely bizarre."

If you find this bizarre then I'm not sure why you concerned about the survival of 'great art'.

"So it is with education – it has to be relevant to the present and contribute to the future."

A fixation with relevence tends to lead to ignorance in my experience.

"And a global perspective is extremely important – we live in an increasingly globalized world in which many political, social, cultural and economic barriers are breaking down."

Yes but children don't really learn anything about a globalized world in secondary school Art lessons - this is the point I'm trying to make.

"Where is your evidence that schools are going about “indoctrinating” children with “certain perspectives” or “creative thinking”? "

Have you ever been to a secondary school. PSHE, Citizenship, celebrating victimhood, even aspects of the Science specification are all ways of indoctrinating children with particular views and perspectives.

"Should education, in fact, not be about enforcing a narrow and impoverished perspective of society on children but to opening up their minds to question, learn and interpret the world they live in?"

I'm not sure why you think the Arts open children minds and Latin doesn't.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 11/11/2011 - 09:50

JimC

You are not describing what happens at all and you are interpreting “Art” in a narrow and reductive way. Art is also the making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings, an activity through which people express particular ideas. I would therefore agree with John Finney, below, when he says “creating, making are intellectually demanding activities, mindful and yes, academic.” Art lessons do provide links to other cultures around the globe, as does drama, music, design, filmaking and in ways that are just as beneficial as studying, for example, European history.

I am concerned about the survival of great art because if children are not encouraged to appreciate works and to create it themselves, then new works won’t be conceived. You wrote of “exposing children to the best the past has to offer” as if art is not continually being created and re-interpreted. It is not fossilised to be examined, but evolving all the time and young people need to be educated about it. There is once again great emphasis on cultural education in Chinese schools. Why? Because Chinese leaders are of the generation that suppressed intellectual thought and creativity during the Cultural Revolution and they have recognised that generations have been left behind the rest of the world in engaging with the arts.

Yes, I have “been to a secondary school - PSHE, Citizenship, celebrating victimhood, even aspects of the Science specification are all ways of indoctrinating children with particular views and perspectives” which is why I find this quote of yours so appalling in its disregard for the ways in which secondary schools can help teach children to become responsible and active citizens. The comprehensive school my children attend celebrates diversity, which is not the same thing as “celebrating victimhood” or “indoctrinating” children. It is simply a way of showing children that people can lead very different lives to their own, have different values, come from different ethnic backgrounds and beliefs and go on to live rewarding lives. If this is indoctrination – which it is not – then at least it discourages intolerance and encourages social cohesion. Despite this, the school achieves excellent GCSE and A Level results. Its music teacher, Elly Barnes, was nominated the country’s most influential gay/lesbian person by the IoS for her work in promoting LGBT Awareness. http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/10/stoke-newington-teacher-na...

Thanks to her, homophobia has been largely eradicated at the school and, in general, the school community is very accepting and inclusive. I find your remarks here not just offensive but dangerous. The Citizenship/PSHE Curriculum teaches children not just how to look after themselves but about democracy and freedom. To remove it, or denigrate it, is tantamount to discouraging young people from understanding their rights or exercising them.

John Finney's picture
Thu, 10/11/2011 - 22:07

Returning to the academic-vocational divide. There seems to be a suggestion in this debate that the arts are not academic, not intellectually demanding. Do we still think that some things are of the body and some of the mind? Creating, making are intellectually demanding activities, mindful and yes, academic.

Davis Lewis's picture
Fri, 11/11/2011 - 09:51

On the issue of Latin, some years ago my son's after school club - this is an inner city primary school - offered Latin for a term, my son absolutely loved it. He is now in secondary school and has now developed an affinity for languages.
Maybe Latin is not as boring and irrelevant as some would have us believe. By the way my son is also a real techie - so maybe embracing the future and celebrating the past is not mutually exclusive.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 11/11/2011 - 10:06

Latin isn't boring or irrelevant. It's a great subject. I think the focus on Latin this year has come about because of its inclusion within a very narrow and so-called academic curriculum favoured by top private schools or places like the West London Free School, the self-styled Eton of State Education or Comprehensive Grammar or whatever label its founders are now attaching to it to set it above the common herd.

When Latin is imposed on the exclusive curriculum in these rather self-conscious and attention seeking schools, then it is difficult not to wonder whether they are trying a little too hard at aping the mores and cultures of exclusive public schools. When these young people get to Oxbridge, I hope they arrive there, Latinized or not, hungry for knowledge and self fulfillment, rather than slightly desperate to be accepted by the Bullingdon Club set. The State School Eton ain't actually Eton. And not everyone wants to pretend to be a toff.

JimC's picture
Sat, 12/11/2011 - 17:30

"Please show me where I have been critical of the achievements of a local school on this site?"

What on earth are you talking about.

"If you are in any way referring to Michaela Community School or West London Free School, I do not recall anyone from those schools celebrating their achievements on Local Schools Network."

The problem isn't limited to who is promoting what on this site. The problem is you whining about schools you disagree with promoting themselves elsewhere then shamelessly promoting schools you happen to like on this site. If you dislike the WLFS that is your choice but you really have no grounds for expecting them not to promote themselves nor for calling that promotion unreasonable.

"There is a difference between an established school with concrete achievements and new schools taking their first steps."

Come off it. Your problem isn't that they are new it is that you don't like their founders.

"No you aren’t the only one complaining about the Citizenship Curriculum (and this is not a mitigating circumstance) but the ones who tend to are more likely to be the same ones who helped set and facilitate the political agenda on education by making wild and false claims about a “broken system” and then insisting on a one-size-to-fit-all, top-down, prescriptive, narrow, “academic” curriculum."

For pity sake. Complaining about educational reform over the last twenty or so years isn't a call for convention education. There is sensible ground between convention education and extreme progressivism.

"It doesn’t encourage them to become Jihadists or communists – "

No one has said this stop making things up.

"To remove it would be to remove a channel of information about the importance of freedom."

We had democracy and freedom before Citizenship and democracy and freedom were undermined by the government that introduced it. I'm sure we'd cope.

"I’m not sure I understand why you felt, in the manner of the guilty admitting to a crime, the need to insert Conservative Voter or Politician. I went on to fill in the three people who have are alleged to have been wilfully blind. So – are the Murdochs Torys then? Is that why Gove met Rupert Murdoch 7 times and News International hackers – sorry executives! – 11 times in just over a year in office? Is that why Cameron hired Coulson? Because of Murdoch-Tory revolving door policies?"

I inserted the words Conservative voter or politician because you spend an inordinate amount of time whining about conservative politicians or anyone who you think supports them - are you aware that you doing this?

Allan Beavis's picture
Sat, 12/11/2011 - 17:43

Calm down dear, as Cameron would say! Your mask has well and truly slipped off. Thanks for revealing so much!

JimC's picture
Sat, 12/11/2011 - 18:09

I was expecting something like this as well. If I did need to calm down it wouldn't be surprising given your approach to debating.

Allan Beavis's picture
Sat, 12/11/2011 - 18:35

Well you do need to. I genuinely hope you aren't unwell...

jimc's picture
Sat, 12/11/2011 - 19:59

Allen you are not going to get a rise out of me by flaming. If you have something substantive to say then please say it.

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