How best do we give children a quality education?

Francis Gilbert's picture

  • I'm appearing at the BETT conference tomorrow and have been asked to address the following points and questions. What do other people think?

  • Joe Wilcox who is organising the event writes:

  • One of this event’s speaker, Toby Young, observed last month that British schoolchildren are now ranked 16th in the world for science, 25th for reading and 28th for maths, according to the OECD’s 2009 PISA report, compared with a 2000 PISA ranking of 4th for science, 7th for reading and 8th for maths. What does this tell us about the performance of the Labour Government’s education policies and about the issues the Coalition Government most urgently needs to address?

  • How far do you welcome the November White Paper’s proposal to limit the remit of Ofsted inspections to just four key areas – teaching standards, leadership, pupil behaviour and achievement?

  • How far do you welcome the White Paper’s proposal to spare top-performing schools regular inspections?

  • How far have teachers been adequately prepared for their roles in recent years and how far do you welcome the changes to teacher training proposed by this Government? (Trainee teachers to spend more time in the classroom; more assessment of teacher training applicants, including tests of character and emotional intelligence; a “new generation of teaching schools on the model of teaching hospitals"; pledge to invest in doubling the number of top graduates who enter teaching through Teach First, and create a new scheme - Teach Next – to attract high performers from other professions into teaching)

  • Michael Gove has described the National Curriculum as a ''straitjacket which stifles the creativity of our best teachers'' and has said he will give teachers more freedom to ''innovate and inspire''. How would you react to his assertion and what do make of his planned improvements?

  • Michael Gove says GCSEs will be made "more rigorous" by stripping out modules, and GCSE performance tables will become "more aspirational" by judging schools on subjects such as science and modern languages rather than just in English and maths. How much of this do you support?

  • Katharine Birbalsingh has alleged the existence of a culture in schools which forbids criticism of ineffective teachers. Is she right? Is she accurately describing a real problem, and, if so, how serious is it? Is this new Government proposing anything which might address any such problem?

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Fiona Millar's picture
Thu, 13/01/2011 - 21:04

It is the end of a long day so apologies if this sound rather jaundiced. I can think of quite a few answers to these questions but am inclined to ask a final one:
What is the point of all these conferences?
There seems to be one every week now, often based around technology in schools, of which there will be little in the near future since the capital budget is no more and the central IT budget has been raided to start free schools.
If any teachers do actually attend , apart from Francis and obviously they are very lucky to have him, does anyone listen to what they say?!

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 14/01/2011 - 12:35

It will be interesting to discover whether Toby Young will use the 2000 OECD PISA figures in any speech he makes since he is now well aware that these figures have been discredited by OECD because I emailed to tell him.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Fri, 14/01/2011 - 18:05

Toby Young wasn't there, but Nick Seaton of the Real Education Campaign was. He just said too many schools were rubbish but didn't have much evidence to back up his claims. The other speaker, Mike Gibbons, an Academy honcho, talked about everything under the sun, but didn't really seem to say anything except that we need to build an "education coalition", whatever that is. He seemed a bit worried about the English Bacc; his Academy did very badly in it.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 15/01/2011 - 11:23

I went to Nick Seaton's website to discover what his organisation had to say about failing schools. Under the heading "Standards" there were three articles, two dated 2004 and the other 2006. A little out-of-date, I think. There was nothing under the Standards heading about OECD PISA 2009 or the EBacc.

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