Rescue Our Schools is a grassroots campaign to stand up for state education. We believe every young person deserves a creative, caring, well-funded and locally-accountable education which sets them up for the future.
In our post-Covid world, we need to equip young people with social intelligence: being able to get on with other people to solve the problems that lie ahead. Our incredibly narrow curriculum constricts students from getting those skills and fails to see the potential in every child. Our punitive way of judging schools on academic results drives this. Our young people are consequently the most tested in the world. We want to inform people about the limitations of our system and propose and argue for something better.
So many countries are heading in this direction already, actively developing broader education systems which give students both the knowledge and skills to change the world for the better. Our children are being left behind. Now is the time to galvanise parents, teachers and students. We must fight for a deeper, kinder, more human education system which sees the uniqueness and promise in every child.
Here’s the first of our collection of RoS voices, presented by one of our youngest activists, speaking up for the students who’ve missed out on so much learning because of Covid.
We believe state education needs a total revamp. For too long it is something that politicians have forced on students, teachers and parents without considering either their views or the evidence about what works. Polls repeatedly suggest that most parents want a great school on their doorstep. We want that too – because we believe in the value of educating everyone together. Here are some of the things we really care about.
Covid-19 has caused huge disruption to school routines and is an opportunity to ask: what should be the point behind education? Is it to get as many students as possible to university, which has been the mantra of recent years? Or is to ensure that all children find their path in life, according to their particular interests and talents? Our view is that we need to provide an education that finds the spark in every child, and builds on that to give them the powerful knowledge and skills they need to go forward in the world with confidence. This is not about low expectations. It’s about having much higherexpectations, so that all young people can find their place in the world.
So what’s stopping us providing a much richer, broader education? The simple answer is the exceptionally punitive way in which schools are judged. Basically, exam results remain the key factor – whether they are SATs or GCSEs or A-Levels. If a school gets poor results, it falls down the league tables, risks being academised (if it hasn’t been already) or taken over by another trust. The head is sure to lose their job. Meanwhile, schools become more and more fixated on teaching to the test to ensure they don’t get downgraded.
How does this affect students? It means they get a very narrow education which is all about teaching to the test. Unfortunately, the Gove education reforms made all high stakes tests deliberately harder to ‘raise standards’, so around a third of students now ‘fail’ SATs in Year 6. Under a system called comparable outcomes, that same third is guaranteed to fail GCSEs five years later. This is a tragic waste on so many levels.
We are interested in schools and countries that do things differently. Outside the UK, most students don’t sit a high stakes exam at both 16 and 18. Now that the school leaving age is eighteen, we think there is a powerful case for reviewing GCSEs and having a much broader qualification when students leave school. Look at our alternatives page, to see how other countries are innovating with more sophisticated ways of summarising students’ individual achievements. We also believe that teaching across subjects through projects linked to real world questions is much more engaging more students, and gives them the kind of breadth of knowledge and skills they need.
We believe teachers are the single most important thing in any school. They deserve to be professionally trained, properly paid and treated with respect. Their training must embrace an understanding of child psychology and different pedagogies. There is, for example, no evidence that zero tolerance behaviour strategies and silent corridors aid educational outcomes. Yet many young teachers are attracted to these approaches because they haven’t studied other methods. At heart, properly trained teachers with continuing professional development cost money – and funding state education properly is a moral imperative.
Schools are not supermarket chains. Every school has its own distinctive make-up and community around it. We believe in a curriculum linked to the local area, so as to bring the learning alive. We also think schools should be accountable to their local communities through elected parent governors. The more that parents feel connected to their school and listened to, the more effective the education. And it goes without saying that the more a school is supported by local families, the more it builds the social cohesion our fractured society so badly needs.
Our Story So Far
- We have a regular social media reach of up to 28,000 with 25,000 for key posts, posting on Facebook most days with new articles and research.
- We are frequent commentators in the media. We’ve been interviewed by BBC 5 Live, LBC, Talk Radio and local radio stations, interviewed in the national press and television.
- We have routinely submitted evidence to government and select committee enquiries.
- We continue to have a strategic role in the More than a Score alliance for alternatives to high stakes testing in primary schools, and are regular signatories to letters in national newspapers.
- We speak regularly at education events and conferences.
- We have joined forces with fellow campaigners Save Our Schools and Fair Funding for All Schools to argue to proper funding for state education.
- Rescue Our School’s Madeleine Holt won the 2019 Fred and Anne Jarvis Award for education campaigning.
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