Weekly Digital Newsletter Monday 14 October 2013 – ‘Everything’s a remix’ edition


I find it incredible that our Secretary of State for Education has decided to change the rules on the GCSE Results system that will apply to secondary schools come September 2016.  “As any fule kno” (to quote Nigel Molesworth – here’s his facebook page http://goo.gl/GBAW5p)  when all the evidence shows that ‘All bonus systems corrupt’, why’s Gove bothering with this nonsense at all?

I can see come the Summer of 3 years hence, that Governing bodies and Headteachers will be scrabbling around to prove that the reverse of what they have been showing to date; their students will suddenly be reported as being of lower ability than heretofore so that the value-add will be so much higher. At a stroke I can see state Grammar schools plummeting down the League tables ‘cos whilst their alumni are still doing very well, sadly they won’t be adding value in their 8 subjects as reported to Govt.

What I object to most is the prescription that 8 subjects is enough.  Well honestly, given that OfSTED and DfE expect all students will be studying English and Lit (2), Maths, 3 Sciences, an MFL, Hist or Geog (That’s the EBACC grouping by the way), why bother offering anything else?  It’s definitely a case of ‘Wither the Arts’, and as for the practical or vocational, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here (as professional teachers)!”

And 24 hours after I had written this post, we have this from the Admissions tutor at Oxford University – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24533511 – in short “There is widespread concern, not restricted to the secondary-school sector, but also to higher education, about the limited evidence that there is need for any change and widespread concern that the impact of bringing in both GCSE and A-level changes at the same time is going to just wreck the English education system.”

What does it all add up to? Not a clue, dear reader, except for Misery for all those who are under the cosh of those who try to plan to beat the system.  As I have previously reported, when the Headteachers of Independent Schools, large, great and good identify that Education has entered/been left in charge of the lunatics, what more can I add.  I guess that in 3 years time, we’ll have GCSE candidates for subjects as diverse as Mandarin, Business, Computing, Electronics, Latin, Statistics, Technology (that’s food or materials) as well as Art, Drama, Music and PE. We’ll be almost on our own then as a day school in this postcode, as one that believes at age 16, it’s diversity and breadth that identifies the 21st century Renaissance student.

News of the ISANet Unconference, taking place – Saturday 23 November 2013.

Fellow Google Certified teacher, Paul Robson and I have gone out to our community to see if we can drum up some extra talent to illuminate and inform our forthcoming Digital conference.  If you’d like to attend, speak or otherwise participate, please encourage us and sign up.  Costs are at £0, and hopefully the experience worth a day out of your comfort zone. Here’s the link to the website – https://sites.google.com/a/clairescourt.net/isa-unconf/

Loads of Titbits for the forthcoming Half-term – set aside time to read this stuff!

  • Everything’s a remix, the 4 video edition – brilliant social study of our media, and how we got here today, to quote Bernard Chartres “We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants” – from Kirby Ferguson http://everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series/

  • Planning in response to Learning –  remarkable blog from Edna Sackson downunder, who reminds us that lessons go best when we learn from our students, whose work reveals new insights.

  • Genetics outweighs teaching, Gove adviser tells his boss – Education in England is no better than mediocre, and billions of pounds have been wasted on pointless university courses and Sure Start schemes for young children, Michael Gove‘s special adviser has said in an outspoken private thesis written a few weeks before he is due to step down from his post.

  • In the same week, the OECD came out with the bombshell that 18 year old Brits don’t spell as well as the 60 year olds.  Quite why the world’s economic forum needed to spend loads of money working out stuff that’s sparklingly obvious to those about to enter their seventh decade beats me.  In most children’s lifetime, English doubles in vocab in 20 years (or some such made-up statistic) and we now have over a billion words in regular use. Fat chance the ‘Yoof’ of today can manage that and gain an insight into a world that demands that they think for themselves. http://goo.gl/MP86rO . Not the shock horror we might think it is – unless Mr give chooses to reduce us to a 2 subject league table to rise up the OECD rankings

  • Think you know all about GMAIL?  Here’s a great infomatic that foreshortens History and fills in the gaps – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/138978338474405465/

  • Claires Court, Halliford, Canbury, Heathfield, St David’s et al and the ISAnet project went to the cloud with their children’s data in 2011 – here’s an Infographic that shows just how ahead of the game we were – shows going to the cloud started (well almost) in 2012 – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/101964379036927267/

  • I love this poster, a mash-up from 100 years ago showing how one person can put on a gas mask.  Rather highlights that remixing is an Art practiced for many, many years. http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BWUxOL4CQAAPkSK.jpg

  • And in case you thought is was safe to go out after the Black Death – Madagascar: Bubonic Plague – Madagascar Faces New, Terrifying Threat –

  • And for those that really do feel that Technology is getting out of hand, here’s how you can host virtual meetings using ‘Second Life’ pedagogies. Don’t laugh, SELTRA are being serious – far more convincing to create your avatar that’s a bit more groovy than the real you – I’ll finish this newsletter where I started – ‘What’s real, when everything can be remixed?’

And finally – for those professionals in Education that wish to visit us at Claires Court to see our work using Google Apps and Chromebooks, I have a regular Monday pm slot set aside to witness and share good practice.  You are more than welcome to come along and learn more about what we have been able to achieve (and continue to do so).

With every best wish for the forthcoming half-term break (and 1 week off from me as well), keep blogging!

James Wilding



About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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