- Paulo Coelho, is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist. He has become one of the most widely read authors in the world today. He is the recipient of numerous international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. Wikipedia
It must be said, dear Reader that I know not of Coelho’s work, or origins of this specific quote. Suffice it to say that I won’t forget it because it strikes to the core and supports everything I stand for as a School Leader and that pleases me.
The stuff of Education is what I come to work for each day. This day (Wednesday 9 April), I read with apprehension the decisions made by the Secretary of State for Education that:”Our changes will make these qualifications more ambitious, with greater stretch for the most able; will prepare young people better for the demands of employment and further study,” said the Education Secretary Michael Gove. Apparently, MG suggested that the changes would correct “pernicious damage” caused by “dumbing down”.
I also read on the BBC website that Brian Lightman, leader of the Association for School and College Leaders, said he was “very concerned about the amount of simultaneous change. The success of these very ambitious changes will depend on effective implementation and high quality communication and preparation for schools from the awarding bodies. We still have not seen specific content for the exams nor details of how it will be assessed. Therefore there is no way of saying with any certainty that these new qualifications will be tougher than what is now in place.”Changes to the structure of exams have already been announced – such as shifting from modules to exams at the end of two years.
So, what’s my problem? On the one hand MG is telling me that ‘things can only get better’ and on the other, BL is suggesting that ‘everything is being changed all at once’ and that as we don’t know what those changes are, we are most likely ‘up the creek without a paddle’! Or words to that effect.
And this is where Coelho’s lyric is so comforting. Because I know that we are an excellent, highly effective and original educational institution doing things about as well as they can be, for a very broad population of children aged 3 to 18. We don’t change things without thought, but our last 6 years of development have caused fundamental review of all our activities, and where possible we have shifted to accommodate best practice as identified by world research, new tech where that makes what we do more visible and inclusive, new ways of working where appropriate to include our learners taking more responsibility for their actions and next steps.
For the next 3 months, until such time as MG’s written plans are visible in detail, I know what to do. My heart says: ‘Don’t let the journos and politicos mess with your head, James’. So I won’t.