All I Want for Christmas

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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If you could choose just one present for Christmas, what would it be?

Dear reader, my shortlist is down to just 10 things in education, but if I could whittle this down to just three wishes that could come true for Christmas 2016, they would be:

  1. School inspections to be less high-stakes; and for the four-scale measurement to reduce from outstanding, good requires improvement and special measures to simply ‘good’ or ‘not yet good’. Likelihood? Possible in September 2017.
  2. To stop the EBacc nonsense immediately. Likelihood? Possible report in Spring 2017.
  3. To celebrate, share and promote the success of teachers all over the UK. We need more positive media stories. Let’s focus on our own doorstep and stop searching in Shanghai and Singapore! Likelihood? Always possible, but unlikely …

What would be yours?

Just one wish …

If I could choose just one thing to appear under my Christmas tree, it would be this. In November 2015 (13 months ago), the DfE launched an EBacc consultation which did not invite comments on the desirability or feasibility of their intentions, but instead posed a series of very closed questions asking how best their aspirations could be achieved. The online response closed on 29th January 2016, yet we are still waiting for the results to be published.

Frankly, I smell a rat and I’m baffled that no civil servant has had the time to publish such an important report. Either that, or they have been inundated with responses.

Image: Shutterstock

… a staggering 87% of secondary school leaders are unhappy with the EBacc proposals. One of the conditions of the setting up of academies, was that they should provide a broad-based education, which, as I have endeavoured to show here: School Leaders Oppose the EBacc.

“Focus on the broader picture”, says OfSTED:

I am reminded of a wonderful quote by Ian Taylor in a letter to the editor of Schools Week: “We’re going to focus on the broader picture, says OfSTED”. Taylor says:

What is all this is meddling with the school curriculum actually achieving? We used to talk about having a balanced curriculum and trying to achieve that. Then we went overboard on literacy and numeracy. We had CPD in how to teach literacy in maths lessons for God’s sake! This meant we forgot science or languages in primary schools. In secondary schools we have driven out music, art, and technology. Will we be asking for their return when we had no musicians, artists, or technologists?

We forced manic marking on teachers. Now we are told not to. We had three-part lessons forced on all teachers for every lesson. We had children writing down lesson objectives every lesson. We had learning styles enforced, CPDed, and inspected. Now we must not have learning styles. We are told teachers must be researchers. (Why not just have teachers as teachers?) We were to be like Finland. Now we must be like Singapore! We have turned the curriculum into an every changing grey porridge of the latest fad.

As Donald Trump might have said, “Let’s stop all this until we can work out what the hell is happening!”

The same can be applied for curriculum and benchmark meddling …

A glimmer of light …

In October 2016, I asked Nick Clancarty to raise the issue in the House of Lords: Lord Nash responded to the Earl of Clancarty’s request in the House of Commons with: “… in due course!

Dear Father Christmas, I’m happy to wait another month, but please deliver the outcomes of the EBacc consultation.

Have a great Christmas!


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