Saturday, 26 March 2016

Dumbing children down for the workforce

Phil Crompton is executive head of The Trent Academies Group
"Is it not clear to us all that the existing curriculum doesn’t work? For years children have asked teachers: `Why are we doing this, Miss? I’ll never use it in real life...` "

"We now live in a world of Ofsted (which has undeniably made a positive impact upon standards), league tables (which initially focussed minds and now just create anxiety), subject reviews, cover supervisors, teaching assistants, consultants and ICT technicians. The world has changed and yet…"

"And yet we still teach the same subjects – despite our ever-changing world."

"Computer studies has made an appearance, and health and social care is on the scene, but essentially it’s business as usual. Kings and queens from the 1500s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, longshore drift, photosynthesis and Pythagoras’s theorem all make regular appearances in classrooms across the country. Pupils still ask: `Why are we doing this? When will this be needed at work?` I remember thinking the same when I was at school."

"Of course, academics will say that a rounded education is crucial. I agree. But do we provide one? Employers say that young people lack the skills and qualities that matter in the world of work: they aren’t resilient enough, they can’t work in teams, don’t show enough initiative, lack discipline, tenacity and the ability to critically analyse. The criticisms never cease, despite changes to structures, working conditions, examination systems and ever-more thorough marking..."

"Would a better world involve GCSEs in teamwork and `getting on with people`? Perhaps an award for leaving your comfort zone and A levels in `bouncing back from setbacks`? Schools can argue that they are helping youngsters to do all this anyway but they won’t be judged on how successful they are. The old favourites will still be the things that will make or break educational careers – and arguably the lives of thousands of young people."

"At our three academies, besides looking for ways to ensure examination statistics keep us out of trouble and give children the chance to jump the hurdles in their way, we are doing everything we can within the confines of the current system to equip our pupils for the workplace..."

"Can the state system afford to sit back and do nothing? I believe now is the time for a different approach. To commit to helping pupils become informed, confident, articulate and ambitious people who can access the most influential jobs, and to do that we need to make clear what the point of school is. We’ll work with employers and make no apologies for doing so."

With the move to turn all schools in England into academies, there`s going to be a lot more of this type of thinking.

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