Phase One: The Next Five Years

It is almost impossible to summarise what a changed education landscape should look without writing a book on the subject – which is no way to debate something as dynamic and ever-changing as education. We are mired down by educational research, dealing with theory and practice, through book and conference, without any discussion as to whether we’re operating in the right paradigm – and what follows below suggests not. It may be that every point is a provocation, but perhaps that is the point because if we don’t get the debate moving along, and discussion fired up we will continue losing teachers and fail our children.

Hence a list of bullet points:

o The school day keeps its current shape

o A change is instigated in school culture: behaviour, aspiration, ethics, expectations.

o Children are taught to see the relevance of education –hence, ipso facto, it must be relevant

o Music and physical education, drama and fitness/ sport activities, including pilates, dance etc are offered at the start of day music

o Formal lessons of core subjects start at 10.00am

o No external assessment until 11

o Move away from selective education – some setting allowed within Years 11 – 13

o Gradual move away from GCSEs

o Use of external providers for remote learning to cater for a wide a range of interests and abilities as practicable (universities, vocational, freelance providers, sharing amongst schools)

o Obstacles, such as excessive accountability for pupils’ performance, classroom disruption, loss of teachers addressed with more focus on classroom management and pedagogy.

o Gradual separation of societal and educative functions of schools (also be reflected in staffing)

o Blended education offered between internal and external providers in the afternoon sessions including arts, music, sports, languages (on-line classrooms), etc

o Staff to include teaching, tutors and facilitators with a commensurate reduction in the number of teacher assistants above Year 5

o Core subjects (especially English and Mathematics) stripped down to utility value, ie less focus on peripheral grammatical terms, (determiners, fronted adverbial phrases, ellipsis), less emphasis on written comprehension, text analysis, more on interpretation, writing skills, accuracy of written language, oral language; in Mathematics, less focus on algebra and calculus in KS 1 – 3, more on practical mathematical skills, tables, measurement, money.

o Significant curriculum change outside of the core subjects with less focus on teaching for assessment (more practical science, practical geography, ecology, more music, art)

o Main homework up to Year 5 should be reading (only other homework should be retentive work, spelling, languages, tables, formulae)

o Ethical underpinning of the curriculum – an understanding of the anthropocene, re-wilding, climate change, ecology and regeneration

o Absorption of History and Geography into Social Studies up until age 14 years

o A root and branch review of what a school should look like (including how to incorporate technology – and the mobile phone – into teaching

o An overhaul / reduction of PD / CPD and new terminology to provide a period of continuity with a focus on pedagogy.

o Focus on classroom management, growing expectations, improving engagement with a focus on relevance and ownership.

o Extra funding required, but schools should also work towards a reductionist approach to education to ensure the process of teaching and learning is not cluttered by distractions. Too often the tools used to deliver lessons get in the way.

o Less focus on cognitive load theory, knowledge rich curriculum, learning and retrieval practice, modes of assessment etc. We need to ignore the trimmings, go back to the core

o More focus on intellectual risk taking, innovation and problem solving.

o Homogenising of school types (grammar, state, independent)

o A re-evaluation of the impact the economic model and business aspect of schools is having on education

o In all things, schools need to visit and re-visit the central question: ‘what is the best education we can give our children – here and now?’

This is to fuel discussion and debate. It can do little more. There will be glaring gaps so don’t bother looking for they will be everywhere – for instance, there is nothing on careers, EYFS, phonics, pastoral care, vocational qualifications etc, (although they are covered in the debate on I am happy to footnote any points and to apologise for any serious omissions which will be both personal and numerous.