Rescue Our Schools

Have you heard of the Big Education Conversation?

Some 100 teachers, heads, parents, business and community leaders gathered at Manchester University to kick off the Big Education Conversation last week. The aim of BEC is to get everyone – students, grandmothers, business people, you name it – discussing what the point of our education system should be. The event saw three ‘provocations’ to get us all thinking: one from David Price, who edited Education Forward, out of which BEC has emerged; Mel Ainscow, Professor of Education at the University of Manchester and an authority on promoting equality in education; and Rosie Clayton, who launched the Reimagining Education project for Big Change. The event seemed timely as the media have got on board with a highly charged discussion about this summer’s GCSEs and A-Levels. Student stress has reportedly gone through the roof. What’s the point of these exams? Do high test scores really equal high standards? It’s time to ask some fundamental questions about what it is all about…

We made sure Rescue Our Schools was at one of the very first roadshows organised by the Labour Party to discuss its proposed National Education Service. The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, gave an opening address.

She made it clear she was open to all fresh ideas on how to guarantee free, life long opportunities to all. One of the key issues to emerge from the discussions – attended by both young and old – was the pernicious effect of high stakes testing in both primary and secondary. Another key concern from the students in the room was the unfairness of student loans and the divisive effects of new university accountability measures which urge students to judge their lecturers.
It was felt that the draft principles of the NES needed to be broadened to embrace the importance of not just knowledge but skills. There were also calls for education to be valued as a vehicle for equality and inclusion.
We would urge anyone who has the roadshow coming their way to get involved.

Did you know York is set to become the worst funded authority in the UK?

An event taking place this Saturday 12th May, aims to look at the effects of this new funding formula on the children of York and also more widely at the impact of the education system on our children.

Sign up here and have your say! Both Jonny Crawshaw and Madeleine Holt from Rescue Our Schools will be there and available to answer any questions you might have about what is going on in education right now.



RoS attends Summer of Love Arts

SteamCo Summer of Love Art

SteamCo, the social enterprise devoted to bringing science and the arts to schools, launched its Summer of Love Arts at Westminster yesterday – and Rescue Our Schools was there. As befits SteamCo events, the whole thing kicked off with some wacky improvisation from Amy Cooke-Hodgson (see our video on Facebook and Twitter). Then came all sort of speakers, among them Madeleine Holt, Rescue Our Schools’ co-founder, who explained the work of the More than a Score alliance for alternatives to SATs.

Sharon Hodgson, the MP for Sunderland West, hosted the event. She was joined by Shadow Early Years Minister Tracy Brabin, Thelma Walker MP (herself an ex primary head) and fellow education select committee member Gillian Keegan MP, who represents Chichester for the Conservatives.

There was a strong sense of MPs from all parties coming together to fight for more creativity within the curriculum. The highlight was a speech from Andria Zafirakou, the head of art at Alperton Community School, and recent winner of the one million dollar Global Teacher Prize.

SteamCo begin their tour in Brighton on May 7th, before traveling to Leeds, London, Stoke and much more. The tour ends at Camp Bestival in July.

Speaking up for speaking

Emma Hardy MPRoS went to an excellent event organised by the English-Speaking union. We heard from children of all ages about how learning to articulate their feelings and listen respectfully had given them a sense of self-worth and being able to deal with situations as they go out into the world. There are plans to set up a group to promote oracy in schools.

Rochdale girls show great initiative

Rochdale girlsA great initiative from girls in Rochdale: they want an education system that prepares them for the challenges ahead. Let’s get behind it!

RoS at the Young Teachers Conference for the NUT South East Region

Stephen Morgan MP (Labour), speaks up for more funding for education at the Young Teachers Conference for the NUT South East Region.

We were delighted to be invited to speak at the NUT Young Teachers Conference in Brighton, alongside esteemed academic Howard Stevenson and the Portsmouth MP, Stephen Morgan on March 10th.

It was so uplifting to hear so many young teachers’ determination to change the system, and put the needs of young people at the heart of what they do.

The audience was asked to come up with ways to improve our education system in England.

Among the suggestions were:

– get rid of OFSTED

– get rid of standardised testing in primary schools

– get rid of graded lesson observations for teachers

– increase funding and pay

– ensure a broader curriculum

– trust teachers

– abolish results-related pay

– get rid of unqualified teachers and train teachers properly

– value all subjects equally

– trust teacheres

– have an education secretary who is an ex-educator

– value teaching assitants

– ensure staff get proper lunch breaks, a buddy, and access to a gym!

Stephen Morgan spoke about the key elements in Labour’s vision for a National Education Service, inviting the audience to flesh out its ideas. Morgan is on the public accounts committee, so is in a position to influence how the NES is funded and which public bodies run it. He spoke too about his own state education, saying “I believe schools should be rooted in their communities.” Here’s to that.