Rescue Our Schools

What do you think about young people’s mental health ?

We are calling on you to let us know what you think about how the government propose action on improving mental health provision for young people. Read more about it here.

We have a deadline to respond to this, so please get your comments in by Monday 26th February.

Reasons to be cheerful

512Rescue 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.

https://player.fm/series/reasons-to-be-cheerful-with-ed-miliband-and-geoff-lloyd

 

Ofsted’s report: Bold Beginnings

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RoS’ Emma Bishton is asking for your thoughts on the Ofsted report, Bold Beginnings.

Bold Beginnings was intended to inform what happens in schools, what happens in inspections, and future government education policy about early years. The report, based on a survey of a tiny minority of primary schools, makes recommendations for four groups of people about reception teaching. Please read our full statement here.

We would like to hear what you think by 16th February so we can publish them in our response to this report.

 

Rescue Our Schools co-founder, Madeleine Holt, spoke alongside children’s author Michael Rosen at an event yesterday for NUT members in Lambeth in South London. The subject – Tired of Testing? – was a chance for speakers and teachers to tell their stories of how too much testing is exhausting and depressing children and young people, parents and teachers.

Michael Rosen shared stories of the sterile homework his children have to endure in their schools. Madeleine spoke of the absurdity of ‘baseline” testing of four year olds, with the results then used to set “flightpaths” to SATS in Year 6 – which in turn set predictions for GCSES.

As for the government’s alleged commitment to social mobility, research has shown that disadvantaged children are likely to do poorly in baseline testing, and then risk being set on “lower ability” tables from four onwards. Elaine Bennett spoke powerfully about the open letter she organised on behalf of Keep Early Years Unique. It called for Ofsted’s Bold Beginnings report on formalising the Reception year to be withdrawn. It now has nearly 3,000 signatories, among them the child development expert, Lord Robert Winston.

The conclusion of the NUT event? The whole system is becoming increasingly shocking, and needs to change for the sake of our children’s and our teachers’ sanity. More than a Score, the coalition of which Rescue Our Schools is a member, is planning a campaign focused on mental health later this year.

Important motion passed in York for education

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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

Rescue Our Schools’ Christmas message

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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.

Christmas Presents for Education Nuts!

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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.)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Education-Forward-Moving-Schools-Future/dp/190997952X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512647669&sr=8-1&keywords=education+forward

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.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_12?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=cleverlands+lucy+crehan&sprefix=cleverlands+%2Cstripbooks%2C132&crid=2D33NCWLV4BM9

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!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Truth-About-Our-Schools-exploring/dp/1138937177/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512647763&sr=1-1&keywords=melissa+benn+the+truth+about+our+schools

Happy reading!

 

RoS attends the debate to launch Testing the Water

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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.

ROS’ Jonny Crawshaw at Green Party Conference

 

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Jonny will be chairing a fringe event on school funding at The Green Party conference in Harrogate on Sunday 8th oct at 6pm. Panel includes Kevin Courtney, a rep from FFFAS & Green Party education spokesperson, Vix Lowthion.

Just handed our manifesto to Angela Rayner

Thanks for taking a copy of our manifesto Angela, we hope you like it and will pledge your support. We would love to meet with you – we have loads of ideas !