Time For Change believes that the current education system (Kindergarten to University and beyond), is based on a largely unchanged, knowledge driven, memory and examined curriculum. It was established during the Victorian era, it is fundamentally flawed and it is no longer relevant for today’s young people and certainly not for those of tomorrow.
The status quo – WHY the need for change?
Every aspect of the current system has to be challenged from length of school year (terms, holidays, length of day), subjects/curriculum, classrooms/design, teacher training, examination and assessment , pedagogy/methodology, aims and objectives, structure and management,
Education is at the centre of society. Society has its own value systems, ethics and morals as a result of education in its broadest sense. Society and education are inseparable; each reflects each other symbiotically.
A new system of education, which is more flexible and dynamic, needs to be developed with urgency if the UK is not going to decline into an ever more diverse, dysfunctional, unequal society, characterised by selfishness and disharmony. Each of these outcomes is currently costing the Government and tax payer huge sums of money. A new system has to be developed, delivered and through it, the creation of an aligned society at peace and mindful of its’ global responsibility, with all positively engaged in progress and development, leading to improved GDP and a more equitable, sustainable, collaborative society for the benefit of all.
We live in a digital world where the skills of accessing, analysing and delivering data are essential. These are key currently untaught skills: it will be the future. Knowledge lies within our phones, the worldwide web and new technologies.
Length of School Year
The current system is based on Victorian agrarian and industrial working patterns which results in 3/4 terms per year, divided by periods of lengthy holiday. This is not conducive to young people’s learning, resulting in exhausted learners and teachers who regularly are required to revisit and relearn materials forgotten during periods of fatigue and long holidays. This is especially true for those with learning difficulties. This is not good for a child’s mental well-being.
A typical school day is from 0800 to 1600, or part thereof, and takes no account of the age of a pupil or their physiological development including their mental well-being or the optimisation of their learning strategies. Learning should be full of happiness, engagement and relevance.
A school day for a child is determined by the clock and their timetable. Learning is constantly interrupted by the structure of the school day and is more important than the content of the lesson or the young person’s learning. Scholastic life is a relentless period of minutes dedicated to one subject. There is no freedom; all is constantly ordained.
In schools, all young people receive a narrow diet of self-contained subjects, some considered to be core, which are ‘taught’ by a teacher at the front of a classroom. Each subject is very largely an island. This didactic approach demands a delivery of knowledge and the need for the young person to absorb large amounts of data for the purpose of accountability without considering different learning styles. It is largely unchanged since the Victorian era. The focus of the curriculum is knowledge based. Success is measured in a linear format, dictated by the Universities and Examination Boards. It is a test of IQ, memory, playing the ‘system’ and speed-writing. All is summative and occasionally formative.
Lessons are taught in subjective specific, largely rectangular rooms.
Teacher training occurs in the main at tertiary level education and reinforces/perpetuates the knowledge, subject, assessment/examination system. Change needs to be systemic from Kindergarten to Teacher Training.
Examination and Assessment
National tests and indeed some additional testing occurs at 4, 7,11, (13), 16, 18 and University. Our young people are the most tested children in the world. As a consequence are they better learners as a result of this relentless system? Success or otherwise in this narrow opening, determines the young person’s opportunities in life. It is divisive, limiting and takes no account of socio-economic grouping, nurture or the aptitudes of the young person, save knowledge and IQ.
The current assessment based system is easily measurable and makes schools accountable. However, this process is not child centred, stifles creativity and reduces potential learning outcomes.
The role of the following has an important part to play in the education of children from the earliest days in school to a life-time of participation, pleasure and enjoyment.
Sport – The role of Sport has an invaluable part to play in the healthy lifestyles of individuals both mentally and physically through individual and team sports. The understanding and appreciation of nutrition, diet and exercise should form of part of everyone’s daily and weekly routines.
Music – in its broadest sense – whether listening or participating – has enormous emotional and spiritual well being and encourages both individual and collaborative involvement and all of the associated benefits.
Art – since the evolution of man, Art has been an inherent creativity whether 2D or 3D imagery. Today this is further enhanced through film, photography and digital mediums, including games. An appreciation of Art has considerable mental and spiritual well-being.
Design and Technology – The inventiveness and innovation acquired through the use of our hands and an understanding of materials and mechanics, has shaped our current lives and will be an essential part of our futures. All children and young people should be exposed to the thought processes of Design and Technology through problem solving, creativity and critical analysis.
The teaching of science, maths and English need to be lifted from the mechanical to the practical and be relevant to the lives and circumstances of our young people
Science – the understanding of the world and the physical, biological and chemical interactions experienced in our daily lives.
Maths – relevant, problem solving and applied practical mathematics which engages the mental and kinaesthetic
English – the development of reading, writing, speaking and listening skills to facilitate communication skills enabling the positive interaction with others physically and culturally.
Forest schools – learning without boundaries.
Developing the Self – a focus on mental health and well-being should be fundamental and integral to the education of all children in our nurseries, primary and secondary schools and colleges… and beyond.
GCSE Statistics 2019
38% of students failed to attain a Grade 4 (former Grade C) or above, in English Language, 40% of students failed to attain a Grade 4 (former Grade C) or above, in mathematics.
These are the “forgotten third” of students who leave school without this basic qualification in two of the most important core subjects who, unless they re-take the examinations and achieve a better grade, will be restricted to the lowest paid jobs with limited opportunities and no future.
Are these statistics acceptable for a country which currently ranks as one of the five richest countries in the developed world?
We need an educational system which nurtures an individual’s attributes and provides society with a highly skilled work force which cares and makes a real difference in the communities which support them.
The end of year school report currently reads “…could do better”!
Now is the Time For Change!