I can’t remember a more interesting time in education. I am sure this has been said many times previously but student fees, a new white paper, a new curriculum and new proposals for those who work in teacher education or research means that virtually every facet of education will be effected. Many of these changes have been forced due to the prevailing economic conditions, some are ideological brought about by the need to be seen to be changing and some seem to merely whimsical. The difficulty is knowing which is which as the pace of change is so frenetic that it is difficult to give each change the attention that is needed. And whilst there is an air of recklessness about it all it creates both an age of excitement and concern.
The excitement come from new opportunities that will be created but the concern is that there is no master plan, there is no one in control and there is a possibility that millions of children will once again be exposed to a curriculum model that is outdated before it is implemented. The most vulnerable remain the same children who have always been vulnerable – those children in care, or whose families are unable to support and nurture them. The winners will also stay the same.
So whilst we have an air of recklessness the reality is that this is only tinkering with the margins and the question is – is it worth it?
Well if the intention was to shake up the education system in England – then it has achieved this?
If the intention was to create new ways of thinking, promoting equality, restoring rigour or preparing for the future – then I am afraid the changes are not significant enough and are in the wrong direction.
A very quick example illustrating the lack of joined up thinking and lack of radical thinking: Creating Prosperity report has just been released highlighting the need for the creative industries http://tinyurl.com/3a3tmxg
On an economic argument alone (forgetting the cultural significance) approximately 1 million people are employed in the creative related industries and this is a sigificant area of potential growth (if we are saying that we need to restore the economic viability of the country). Around the same time the education white paper was released with not one single mention of creativity! Worse still the introduction of English Baccalaureate which will be reported in the 2010 School Performance Tables which will be published in January 2011 http://j.mp/eD4bFd
We know schools will focus upon what is measured and instead of a recognition of STEM (not just Science or Maths) subjects or of creative opportunities an opportunity to be radical was missed.
Reckless Yes – radical No!