Thank you Dear Reader, I have had a fabulous summer, or dare I say actually some three weeks in which the sun has shone, the grass has grown, the crops have ‘riz’ and the new greenhouse is elegantly installed at the end of the garden. It might be that I took a rest from tweeting and blogging, but perhaps that’s as it should be, for ‘All work, and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. I am delighted now that school is back in session and the veritable bounty of fruits from our academic labours here at Claires Court are steadily being prepared for our Speech day and Prize Giving harvest next week, 19 September.
The big Education picture is not nearly so rosy, and the disgraceful grade deflation now being perpetrated by the current coalition is in danger of disenfranchising a host of young adults whose efforts have not reaped similar just desserts. Michael Rosen, former Children’s Laureate wrote this last week in his regular letter of a curious parent to Michael Gove. “Your (government) colleagues are trying to build a low-wage economy as a means of getting out of the mess the casino capitalists created. Your contribution to this effort has been to increase the number of students with lower qualifications. These students are people who will think (you hope) that they have no right to higher earnings“. You can read the whole letter here – http://goo.gl/qoNMGg – and it makes chilling reading. And this man (MG) is in charge of something as important as our children’s education?
The leading academic voices in Education are joining in a growing chorus of disapproval, as one knee jerk reform after another from MG shatters the current assessment framework, covering the sincere work of diligent professionals with scorn, only for those reforms to be either cancelled or deferred because the sketched-out alternatives have no chance of being anything other than worse. This week’s news is that his GCSE and A level reforms are to be delayed to 2016, whilst many of the august bodies that represent Science damn the government’s consultation of A level reforms in this area as a sham (BBC).
Bill Boyle, Professor of Educational Assessment at Manchester University wrote in the Times Educational Supplement last week that it was time to ‘Abandon the “ladder of shame” approach to school effectiveness and student progress and try a novel route that focuses on teaching and learning, learner autonomy and lifelong learning. My senior colleagues and I chose to leave the national curriculum in 2007 and do just this, give our children and teachers even more room to learn and gather a truer appreciation of how an all-round education could engage and empower, Over the past 2 years, our curriculum and pastoral developments have created the Claires Court Essentials, and it is quite remarkable now to see just how close to Professor Boyle’s ideal school we have become. And what is so exciting is that the climate of engagement we witness each day highlights that you don’t need to bread arrogance in your students to achieve this. Far from it; our community values the personal qualities of selfless endeavour for the good of all, and we are certainly not ‘gaming the system’ for short term gains. Professor Boyle recalls that such an educational nirvana is impossible under the current government and references such through a ‘Pigs might fly’ analogy.
Well, please spread the news that Claires Court’s broad ability approach to education is reaping remarkable rewards, building our reputation locally and globally alike. Since we broke for the Summer holidays, our rowers have won the Victor Ludorum at the National Rowing Championships for being the most successful school, and our actors have returned from a remarkable and successful tour at the Edinburgh Fringe. Moreover, international vistors come each week, most notably planned for this coming January, when we are to welcome a delegation of 50 heads and educators from Sweden to see our school in action, using technology integrated seamlessly with collaborative and investigative learning. In short, what we are achieving is real, remarkable, evidence-based in best practice and fit for the whole age range. What you won’t find is any ‘porkies’ – Pork Pies – cockney rhyming slang for Lies – flying or otherwise.
If pigs could fly, I´d fly a pig
To foreign countries small and big-
To Italy and Spain,
To Austria, where cowbells ring,
To Germany, where people sing-
And then come home again.
I´d see the Ganges and the Nile;
I´d visit Madagascar´s isle,
And Persia and Peru.
People would say they´d never seen
So odd, so strange an air-machine
As that on which I flew.
Why, everyone would raise a shout
To see his trotters and his snout
Come floating from the sky;
And I would be a famous star
Well known in countries near and far-
If only pigs could fly!
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