Rescue Our School’s co-founder, Madeleine Holt, will be talking to Ed Miliband on Monday 19th February in his much-listened to podcast. Madeleine will be talking about how we are becoming international outliers in developing such a narrow and uninspiring curriculum. She is joined by headteacher Jez Bennett, who is pioneering a broader, English baccalaureate, and the playwright James Graham.
To hear this united call for greater creativity in schools, tune in next Monday.
The City of York Council passed an important motion last Thursday night (14th Dec) calling on the Secretary of State for Education to look again at the funding settlement for York which has seen it’s pupils become the lowest funded in the country. Cllr Jonny Crawshaw (Labour) – a founder member of Rescue Our Schools – brought an amendment to the original Lib Dem motion that widened it’s scope to included exam factories, teacher workload and the narrowing curriculum. The subsequently amended motion was supported by Labour, Lib Dem, Green and Independent Councillors while Conservative Councillors abstained. You can read the motion as passed here
Christmas is approaching, and schools across the country are making preparations for shows, parties, and fundraisers. But as we approach the end of term there is a distinct lack of Christmas cheer for our pupils and teachers, and indeed for anyone interested in making sure that all children, regardless of their circumstances, access the education they need to thrive. The autumn budget brought no relief from the rising cost pressures affecting our schools, and last weekend the Social Mobility Commission resigned en masse, on the grounds that there is no capacity in government to actually deliver on improving outcomes for the poorest children in our society and narrowing the gap between the best and worst off.
Many teachers, especially in primary schools, dig into their pockets to buy their pupils a little token at Christmas. But these same teachers are now also having to pay for pencils and other essentials in their classroom on a regular basis, and there is no sign of that coming to an end. These are the same teachers who have endured 7 years of what the government euphemistically calls ‘pay restraint’ (in other words, a pay cut after inflation). Some of these teachers, like their pupils, are having to turn to food banks to get through the day. Yet again, the government has passed up the opportunity to invest in our children’s future, and instead continues to rely on the generosity of public sector workers to deliver public services. The government has cast itself as Scrooge, so far without redemption. Let’s hope the spirit of Christmas future visits before it is too late.
Rescue Our Schools would like to recommend some Christmas reading/possible presents for education enthusiasts like us?
Education Forward came out a few weeks ago: it is a collection of essays arguing that our education system is stuck in Victorian times, and needs a total rethink to prepare children for the 21st century.
(Rescue Our Schools’ co-founder Madeleine Holt has written an essay on More than a Score, the campaign for alternatives to high stakes testing, esp SATs.)
Another great book is Cleverlands. Secondary school teacher Lucy Crehan goes on a grand tour of countries that Gove/Gibberish praise for their PISA results. She discovers how much they trust teachers, don’t link scores to judging schools, generally don’t set kids etc. A fascinating and easy read.
Finally, a firm favourite: the Truth abour Our Schools by Melissa Benn. A handy summary of the key facts you need when you have to argue against grammar schools/academisation, name your topic!
Pearson uk’s president, Rod Bristow, agrees with NEU joint General Secretary, Mary Bousted, that high stakes testing has harming our education. Rescue Our Schools was at the debate to launch Testing the Water, a report by education thinktank LKM Co on alternatives to high stakes testing. They suggest dropping the EBacc measure, which squeezes outs the arts, no longer linking student test results with teacher pay, and introducing national sampling as an alternative to high stakes tests.