Monthly Archives: June 2015

Ha, Ha, Ha: Education is sorted out by Hutton, Heffer and Hartley Brewer

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Newspaper columnists are like buses you wait for ages for one to write about education and then suddenly three columns turn up at once. Hutton, Heffer and Hartley-Brewer responded in today’s Sundays to the sad, early death of Chris Woodhead, the former Chief Inspector of Schools.

Will Hutton wants everyone to get on his bus. His piece begins in tears and ends in hopelessness. Hutton brought his kids up in Oxford and thought the local comprehensive schools were good enough for his children despite the opinions of those middle class parents  who sent their kids to the local private schools. Hutton argues that when Chris Woodhead became head of Ofsted the view of those middle class parents were echoed, he said that there were 15,000 teachers who should be sacked: “…his excoriation of soft teaching methods and praise of his insistence that kids needed to acquire both skills and knowledge for knowledge’s sake.” Hutton says this was echoed by Gove: “…that we need yet more of that [Woodhead’s] energy now to mount the ongoing fight against the liberal/left blob still defending the indefensible.” Then comes an odd bit of logic:

“Except there has been a quiet revolution taking place in our state schools, especially primary schools, which would be hard to imagine if the blob really was as effective in sustaining mediocrity as its critics say. The inconvenient truth is that the state school system is in the round good and improving. Sir Michael Wilshaw, who enraged so many educationalists by insisting when he took the job as chief inspector of schools that he would tolerate no excuses for failure, now declares that after 7,000 school inspections over the last year, 82% of primary schools and 71% of secondary schools are good or outstanding.”

Doesn’t this undermine Hutton’s position somewhat? Wilshaw, it could be argued, is ‘son of Woodhead’ and would this ‘quiet revolution’ have taken place if Blunkett, Woodhead, Gove, Wilshaw et al, not taken up the cudgels against ”blobish’ progressivism’? As Hutton says, the blob:

“…probably did over-emphasise comprehensiveness over excellence in the 1970s and 80s, but those days are long gone. Today’s left/right blend of commitment to universality, less bad funding, rigour and leadership has worked.”

Has it worked because of ‘the blob’, in spite of ‘the blob’ or because of the whole shebang: the deriding of the teaching profession, ofsted, and the heavily top down central diktats from Government? I’m not sure what Hutton is getting at. However it is clear what he wants, a fully comprehensive system where all go to their excellent local state school: “…in a system that spelled out their togetherness while teaching them with rigour. The English tragedy is that we will never get there.” And this, it seems, is because of the parents, in Oxford, and other places who opt out of the system and go private.

Meanwhile, over at the Daily Telegraph, Simon Heffer has it all sorted, under the headline ‘The Tories must sort out this Marxist education mess’ he feels that since Tony Crosland’s boast that he would close ‘every fucking grammar school’ in Britain the Tories have done little to:

“Undo this social and intellectual savagery”

Most notably under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher who abolished many grammar schools as Education Secretary. But Heffer’s real enemy is:

“The Leftist bureaucracy in local authorities and the hard leftism of teacher training establishments, which pushed “progressive” values: but no-one took them on.”

Except, it seems, John Patten, a Tory education secretary who was not in awe of “the Marxists” but, apparently, John Major cut him ‘off at the knees’. Woodhead arrives somewhat heroically into this scene but made a mistake talking about substandard teachers: “It may have been correct but it lacked evidence and failed to emphasise how many teachers were exceptionally good…”

Gove, like Patten, was axed, apparently, by Lynton Crosby for upsetting the NUT… Then Heffer goes into English tragedy mode in which we: “…have created a society in which dysfunctional and ‘alternative’ families may flourish…” I wonder how many of these alternative families send their children to Bedales? And: “Too many children go to school feral. Even teachers who merit respect find it impossible to command it in classes polluted by such delinquents.” This, it seems, is why State schools are so important, to make up: “…for the increasing deficiencies of parents.”

Heffer also has a solution, though not the same as Hutton’s:

“…end all local authority control; end teacher training as we know it; give greater scope for severe punishments for parents who do not control their children; reform the examination system, which is beyond parody; sack bad teachers and pay good ones more…; create more selective schools; and provide proper vocational schools for the non-academic.”

Some of this makes me wonder whether Heffer knows what has been going on in Education over the last few years…

Over at the Sunday Times, Julia Hartley-Brewer believed that Chris Woodhead led a revolution in the state education system, this was a revolution clearly missed  by Hutton and Heffer. However, Hartley-Brewer, feels reformists: “…are still fighting ‘the enemy within’ or… ‘the blob'”. Again 15,000 useless teachers raise their ugly elbow patches and “fashionable teaching methods that didn’t work.” As Heffer points out we have no idea how many incompetent teachers there were and, no matter how hard people try to repeat it, we don’t know whether progressive teaching and learning was endemic in bad schools and missing from successful schools. Hartley Brewer goes on to explain that progressivism meant:

“…throwing away textbooks and fact-based knowledge and… ditching the use of phonics… as a result a generation of children were doomed to failure – and even those who succeeded were outstripped by their better qualified peers  in private schools…”

Some of this might be true, though which generation has been ‘doomed to failure’ I do not know… I would like to know, I want to know… what does Hartley-Brewer mean by ‘failure’? And these better qualified peers in private education…? Some of whom were taught in extraordinarily ‘progressive’ places, I mean our heir to the throne probably hates progressive education because he was taught in what many consider to be a ‘progressive’ establishment… I digress…

Hartley Brewer quotes a ‘senior government figure’ who echoes Hutton: “There is no reason why every local school shouldn’t be a great school…”But what stops them from being so is: “educational faculties in universities… where they are still fighting the use of phonics, textbooks and a knowledge-based curriculum.”

Hartley-Brewer writes:

“In many British schools textbooks are still only used for 10% of lesson time — in sharp contrast to the high-performing Finnish education system where they are the basis of 95% of classroom learning.”

But despite the hope that Hartley Brewer has in Free Schools, Wilshaw, and I paraphrase, ‘sending in hit squads to replace failing Heads from day one in coasting schools…’ she seems to not believe the ‘senior government figure’; she believes the one key reform as argued by Woodhead, is one that is ‘completely off the cards’ and that is….

“A return to academically selective schools…”

She finishes her piece saying that:

“Woodhead, the man, has died, but his dream of expelling mediocrity, failure and complacency from our schools lives on.”

The argument seems to be Hutton and the Government aiming for ‘good local schools’ against Heffer and Hartley-Brewer who want a return to selection. Add some phonics, text books and severely punish alternative and dysfunctional parents and their feral children, get rid of rubbish Head teachers in coasting schools and stop middle class parents sending their kids to private schools, or at least the progressive ones…

and the blob, blobs on… either as Marxist insurrectionists or quiet pro-Wilshaw revolutionaries…

Meanwhile teachers and children return to school tomorrow and take out their text books…

Er…

And the conversation goes on

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Ofsted and the Trivium

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Just before half term I received the following email from a Headteacher of a school I have been working with, the school had approached me a year or so after being given a: ‘Requires Improvement’ rating in an Ofsted report and wanted me to work with them on embedding ideas as outlined in my book Trivium 21c.
Here is the email:
Hi Martin,
Hope you are well.
Just wanted to let you know that we have just had a section 5 Ofsted inspection, which has gone really well.
You may be pleased to know that Trivium featured quite strongly in the inspectors’ feedback. One of the inspectors had read your book and the whole team were impressed by the vision that we have set out for teaching, and the impact that Trivium is already having in some subject areas (Science and maths) in such a short space of time.
In their conversations with teachers and middle leaders they reported that many teachers were discussing Trivium as a way of developing their curriculums and teaching methods.
In addition, the inspectors were impressed with our ideology of interleaving all the great work we do on character development and care and guidance with teaching and learning through the three elements of Trivium.
Thanks for your work with us, it really seems to be working.
Sam. 
I am pleased to report that the school was rated ‘Good’ in the inspection.
In the foreword to the booklet: ‘The Future of Education Inspection: Understanding the changes,’ Michael Wilshaw writes:
Great leadership is at the heart of the three major reforms Ofsted is making to inspection from September 2015. Using the new common inspection framework, inspectors will look at leaders’ vision and ambition for all children and learners. They will want to see how leaders set the culture of their school or provider and how they ensure that all learners – particularly the most disadvantaged – make strong progress from their different starting points.
The vision I have for Trivium Schools is that each school begins with an idea of what education is for and it is this that shapes the culture of the school. It is through the three ways of the trivium that the vision can be made to work in a concrete way.
The trivium of grammar, dialectic and rhetoric gives teachers a language through which they can discuss how teaching and learning works at a school level yet also a way to examine the very real differences in the way each subject is taught. Every school I have worked with use the trivium in different ways, such is the beauty of the tradition, it enables schools and teachers to be confident in their core purpose of educating their pupils to make real progress in the pursuit of wisdom.
If you would like to know more about Trivium Schools you can contact me here.
I enjoyed talking about this at the Sunday Times Festival of Education at Wellington College, on Friday 19th June 2015 with Tom Sherrington the Headteacher of Highbury Grove School about The Philosopher Kids of North London and the three ways of the Highbury Grove Trivium: Knowledge, Exploration and Communication.
Hope to see some of you there!

Nicky Morgan and the Ghastly New World of Morgantopia

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Nicky Morgan is reported in today’s Sunday Times to have said:

“I want every child – 100% of children entering school in September to be entered for those core academic subjects which evidence shows sets every child up for life.”

I would like to see this evidence and I would like to know if entering and failing these subjects sets you up ‘for life’ too or does Morgan expect everyone to take these subjects and pass them? When she measures ‘set up for life’ what does she judge that by? Is it judged by tax receipts? Number of Grandchildren? Length of Life? Whether you can retire to Chichester? Are there no other subjects that set children ‘up for life’?

“We know that for too long children in some state schools have been discouraged from taking these academic subjects. We want these children to get better jobs and go to top universities and we know that taking these subjects unlocks that.”

Some state schools have been deliberately stopping children taking certain subjects… Now this may be true, I would like to see evidence of this. But is it true that every single child who didn’t take the Ebacc was discouraged even though they were capable of doing it? Are there some children in State schools who will struggle taking the Ebacc? If not, I ask again, does she want every child to pass the Ebacc? If everyone does get the Ebacc will everyone get better jobs and go to top universities? Are there any jobs that ‘aren’t’ better? What are these jobs? Who will do these jobs in Morgantopia? What will happen to the universities that aren’t top? Will the top Universities expand to allow all these hitherto under performing state school students into them? Will Private school kids step aside and no longer take top jobs and fill up space in top universities? Will every top job double up? Will we have two Primeministers? A State School one and an old Etonian?

“English, maths, science, history or geography, and a modern foreign language are key for future achievement. I will expect all children starting school in September and starting their GCSE courses in 2018 to be taking these subjects for GCSE.”

Are these GCSEs key for future achievement? Only one science? Geography better than Religious Studies? Will it be ruined if someone were to sully their studies with Art and Music? And does this mean that OfQual has been wasting its time making all GCSEs equally rigorous?

“Children taking the Ebacc will have prominence in the accountability tables.”

Does this mean everyone will be taking the Ebacc or not? Is it compulsory or a massive ‘nudge’?Does Morgan want Independent schools to play along with this? Will they be featuring in the accountability tables? Will Free schools and academies be free to ignore all this and not punished for exercising their freedoms by featuring low down on accountability tables? Will free schools that ignore these ideas be showing ‘character’?

“I want it to be the thing that parents really look at when they choose secondary schools, in the same way that teenagers choosing university ask: what am I getting for my £9000 fees?”

In Morgantopia will every parent REALLY be able to choose a Secondary school? REALLY ?

Finally the Sunday Times reports that

Morgan ‘plans to unveil initiatives to build character and resilience, including more competitive sport, to help [them] cope’ with the changes, that she is ‘concerned’ will ‘heap more pressure on teenagers’…

So ‘Initiatives’ plus Competitive Sport plus the Ebacc equals Morgantopia. Sounds ghastly.

Anarchy in the UK: The Peculiar Value of Arts Education

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School’s Minister Nick Gibb said that: “To those who criticise our focus on academic subjects, or suggest that the EBacc is a Gradgrindian anachronism, I have a simple question: would you want your child to be denied the opportunity to study a science, history or geography, and a foreign language?” My answer to that question is an emphatic ‘NO!’ Earlier in his speech he said: “That is not to say, of course, that subjects outside the English Baccalaureate have no place in schools. The EBacc is a specific, limited measure consisting of only 5 subject areas and up to 8 GCSEs. Whilst this means that there are several valuable subjects which are not included, it also means that there is time for most pupils to study other subjects in addition to the EBacc.” He went on to talk about how the Government has and is promoting the arts in schools. Gibb talks of the need for social mobility and social justice for the poor and I could argue about whether social mobility will happen for poor kids if they all get 8 academic GCSEs but it might be something that works wonders in ten or so years time, so let’s wait…

Rather than just being ‘limited’ it seems the EBACC is limiting: ‘The most commonly withdrawn subjects are drama and performing arts, which had been dropped in nearly a quarter of schools where a subject had been withdrawn (23%), followed by art (17%) and design technology (14%).’  I don’t see this picture improving if all pupils have to take the EBACC.  The impact on the ‘Arts’ is the Government’s fault and schools fault for doing as they’re told to the letter. We need a bit of anarchy.

In a piece about University liberal education, the controversial writer Allan Bloom wrote that each student has four years in which…:

He must learn that there is a great world beyond the little one he knows, experience the exhilaration of it and digest enough of it to sustain himself in the intellectual deserts he is destined to traverse. He must do this, that is, if he is to have any hope of a higher life. The importance of these years… cannot be overestimated. They are civilisation’s only chance to get to him.

One could argue that this is hyperbole and that, for some individuals, there will be many opportunities to catch a bit of civilisation whether they have this through formal education or not, but for many school is their main chance to think. Education is about far more than eight academic subjects. Gibb knows this, the tradition since the Ancient Greeks tells us this. A great Baccalaureate should not be the product of unimaginative politicians but a celebration of the great tradition, an escape from the philistinism, that is sure to follow, in our corporate and public sphere. Education should expand us, not narrow us.

In the early 1700s the ‘Grand Tour’ had become an accepted part of education for fortunate young men, who received a rather narrow education in the Public Schools of the time. The tour, according to Christopher Hibbert:

Had been recognised as an ideal means of imparting taste and knowledge and of arousing curiosity in the mind of a youth… who was expected to return from his travels with a broadened mind as well as a good command of foreign languages, a new self-reliance and self-possession as well as a highly developed taste and grace of manner.

The grand tour took in great architecture, countryside, cafés, food, brothels, bars, sport, galleries, ballet, opera, theatre, fights, executions, libraries, cathedrals, carnivals, and great conversation, companionship and experiences; a broadening of the mind, from the sublime to the ridiculous, all life was there.

Nowadays the Public Schools of England offer a broader curriculum, though not known for executions and brothels, they are certainly, at their best, places that offer an education in which the Arts are valued. For example at Eton: “We don’t do drama just for its educational value. We do a play as a work of art, to be explored at its fullest.” In 2012 the Guardian reported that the drama department in Eton ‘Boasts a full-time designer, a carpenter and a manager, as well as a part-time wardrobe mistress. This weekend sees final studio performances of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan, before the curtain goes up on Martin Crimp’s Attempts on Her Life. Productions of Ben Hecht’s The Front Page and Alan Bennett’s The History Boys are waiting in the wings for February. The school’s director-in-residence, Rebecca Steel, is also helping to open up the world of movement and dance with productions devised in school.’

According to the Headteacher of the Independent School Bedales, Keith Budge:

“James Napier, an Old Bedalian and founder of the London Atelier of Representational Art, stresses that… a Bedales Arts and Design education offers: “The freedom to think.” This is a sentiment that chimes with the school’s educational philosophy. Bedales has always nurtured individuality, initiative and an enquiring mind.” It is this sort of language that resonates with progressive educationalists and those who are signed up to the ‘creativity’ agenda.

The current doyen  of  progressive education  Ken Robinson said here that: “I work a lot with Fortune 500 companies, and they’re always saying: “We need people who can be innovative, who can think differently.” If you look at the mortality rate among companies, it’s massive. America is now facing the biggest challenge it’s ever faced—to maintain it’s position in the world economies. All these things demand high levels of innovation, creativity, and ingenuity. At the moment, instead of promoting creativity, I think we’re systematically educating it out of our kids.”

Robinson wants to bring creativity to the aid of capitalism in crisis. This linking of the Arts, creativity, and West Coast capitalism is a heady brew, one that has been drunk entirely by David Cameron’s one time guru Steve Hilton who points out in his book ‘More Human’ that: “Creativity… is considered the most important leadership trait by global CEOs…” The commodification of creativity.

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Ken Robinson is wrong, his idea of creativity is limiting, it should not be there to serve capital it should be there to critique it or even wreck it and though it might lead to Capitalism being more successful, it’s not a given, nor should it be. Art for Art’s sake is its own justification. John Lydon became a rich man thanks to Punk, Butter and Property. Filthy Lucre it may have been, hate it and make it, and although now we have credit cards with punk iconography on them, at the time the nation was rocked by Rotten’s filth and fury. The creative artist is a dangerous type, far removed from the corporate ‘creatives’ that the 21st century skills lobby cite to justify the inclusion in the curriculum of the arts. Art in schools should not be about creating little Fortune 500 wage slaves, the arts in schools should be far more dangerous.

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In ‘After Theory’ Terry Eagleton wrote that: “[Artists] deal with works whose depth and intensity show up the meagreness of everyday life in a market-obsessed society. They are also trained to imagine alternatives to the actual. Art encourages you to fantasize and desire. For all these reasons, it is easy to see why it is students of art… rather than chemical engineering who tend to staff the barricades”

The world of art is peopled by the awkward squad. It is anarchic.

The awkward squad aren’t just from the left. Roger Scruton thinks in ‘How to be a Conservative’ that when coming into contact with great art we “Encounter a unity of experience and thought, a coming together of the sensory and the intellectual for which ‘imagination’ is the everyday name. This fact which places the meaning of aesthetic experience outside the reach of science, explains its peculiar value. In the moment of beauty we encounter meaning in immediate and sensory form: we are endorsed and justified in being here, now and alive.”

Before and after science the arts are part of a fulsome education, they are a part of what it means to be human and this is why they should be part of the curriculum and given recognition in a baccalaureate, because the arts are alive! That the arts might not be valued is a sign of what we are becoming as a nation just wanting our curriculum to satisfy an instrumentalist desire to shape future workers.

The tradition values arts and cultural education, our great independent schools value them too. We must wrest control away from Government and its dour little EBACC. As Scruton writes: “No cause is more important… than that of education, which needs to be liberated from the state and given back to society.” So schools stop moaning, take the Bacc back to its rightful place as part of the tradition and add to it, and ensure, as Scruton says, that we keep: “Present in the minds of the young those great works that created the emotional world in which they live, whether or not they are yet aware of it…” and whether they go to a posh school or not a little bit of anarchy can go a long way…

The Two ‘U’s: Utility and Utopia

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Dear Tristram…

No, don’t worry, this is not an open letter, it is just a reaction to an article I read in today’s Guardian that began: ‘Dear Tristram…’

I am not astonished by the picture of randomness and chaos that Tristram paints as I have been involved in teaching for over twenty five years and appreciate that this is integral to how we do things here, you see, I don’t see there was a golden ‘New Labour’ age, in fact much of what Hunt describes had its roots in the second and third words of Blair’s mantra: ‘Education, education, education…’ If only Labour had stuck to the first word things might have been different, but soundbite over substance – education became the catch all of all society’s ills and the backdrop to all our futures…

In today’s Guardian Tristram Hunt writes: “We signally failed to use the potency of education policy – its focus on the future, its capacity to craft a different society, its centrality to wealth creation and work – to offer a compelling enough vision of a Labour Britain.” And my two evil twin ‘U’s of education come to the fore; whenever these two feature in a short statement, disaster surely follows on: Utopia and Utility. Education is singularly far more interesting than this instrumentalist conceit.

But instead of seeing problems in his own ideas, Hunt goes on: “Yet I would make two criticisms. As leader of the Labour party, Ed Miliband…” He might as well stop there. Oh kick a man when he’s down, so many in the higher echelons of the Labour Party are standing at the side of their tent and pissing in, the collectivist party has picked on an individual and it is not an ‘ed’ifying sight.

Hunt goes on to say that due to fear of initiative-itus Labour: “tempered our radicalism… allowing the Tories to seize far too much of the education mantle.” But what is this radicalism? It seems to be about: “creativity, innovation and less testing,” white working class attainment, a national education system that: ‘integrates’ rather than ‘segregates’, the pupil premium extended to children from families just above the poverty line, and:

“…Most important is our vision of the future. Right from the start, the next leader of the Labour party has to place education at the core of their political project – it speaks to all the attributes of aspiration, the future and promise we need to own.” = Utopia

And: Technology. The digital economy is transforming the world of work and it needs to start reshaping the classroom. We have to embrace this and think about how innovation can re-energise our education system. Education must be our vehicle for a bigger story of Britain: how we use the extraordinary talent and creativity in our education system to build a competitive economy, how we ensure communities left behind by globalisation have the skills and confidence to thrive, and how we allow professional pride and moral mission to flourish in the English classroom. = Utility (and a bit more Utopia)

Deliverology, Targets, Instrumental approach to building the future, measured in how our economy performs. If people want to build a competitive economy don’t rely on schools, we don’t do that… and and… just what sort of ‘creativity’ are we being asked to indulge in? I expect it is the creativity of the business boardroom and west coast American silicon valley skateboarding technologists rather than that of Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath and Sid Vicious.

Unfortunately for all this talk education is far too important to be set in the service of the utilitarians and far more realistic, modest and cantankerous to satisfy the utopians.

Great educators are so creative that they will immediately spot where to chuck the spanner to put a stop to your well oiled policy pronouncement machines.

So when Tristram writes:

Right from the start, the next leader of the Labour party has to place education at the core of their political project – it speaks to all the attributes of aspiration, the future and promise we need to own. For the Labour party that has to entail our founding ideal of tackling inequality and building a just society. So, a focus on strong families, loving parenting, emotional resilience, high-quality childcare and better nursery provision is crucial. It is investment in the early years that makes the difference – which is perhaps why the Tories have identified it as an area for particularly deep cuts.

Does this mean the mantra of ‘education, education, education,’ will be replaced by: ‘education, education, education, EDUCATION!’ Will speaking of ‘aspiration’ make the whole exercise about ‘winners’, classroom walls covered in pictures and dubious quotes from successful people, and the odd mention of ‘failure’ but only as an adjunct to future ‘SUCCESS!’? Does owning the future and promise mean that they are there to be ‘bought’? And does Hunt really believe that Tories are cutting early years because they don’t want the poor to aspire? In fact the ideology of aspiration, poor children achieving more, is something that has driven much of the language of the Conservative education reforms for they have fallen for the same two ‘U’s as Labour, they too believe in Utility and Utopia.

A focus on strong families and loving parenting is to be applauded, though these things are not in the gift of Government. Yes, Government can legislate to allow families more time together but this might involve arguments away from Utility and Utopia. We might need a slightly weaker economy to allow better parenting and we might need to stop building for some halcyon future and start looking to the present and enable schools to have but one purpose, summed up in one word: ‘education’. Let schools be part of what we all do and do not burden them with the idea that they are sole agents of change for a society that has given up on everything else.

Education Festival Line Up

wellington_collegeWell, it’s finally available, the programme for this year’s Sunday Times Education Festival at Wellington College on 18th and 19th June has been released. Apparently this is the first draft and liable to change but like an early look at next year’s school timetable it brings a certain frisson of excitement with it. You can access the programme here, it’s quite a stellar line up!

I am due to speak twice:

On Friday at 9.10am I am in conversation with Tom Sherrington, Headteacher at Highbury Grove School about the work we are doing together on Trivium Schools and how it is starting to bear fruit in North London and in other schools I am working with.

On Thursday at 11.30am I am on a panel with Laura McInerney, Lucy Heller and Ty Godard discussing the topic of ‘What do Schools Need From This Government?’ The answer could be lots of money and no interference… but how likely is that?

It would be good to meet up with many old faces and new, it promises to be a lot of fun!

Fail again. Nicky Morgan on Academies

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A wonderful moment this morning on BBC Breakfast News, our esteemed Secretary of State was asked: “How many academies, currently, are unsatisfactory?” She replied “Well it’s not abow, byah mmm nyah obviously academies…” caught on the hop, Morgan began to try to defend the indefensible by ignoring the question. The Interviewer, Charlie Stayt, pointed out some people say that: “Just turning a school into an academy does not make it a good school… You’re suggesting to us that this is the absolute answer to any problems with schools: they become academies, so could you just tell us how many academies are falling below the standards?” The answer came back swiftly, though quietly: “No….”

It’s worth watching here

It brings to mind the oft quoted line from Samuel Beckett’s piece Worstward Ho:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

What follows is worth looking at too:

Now the other. Sick of the either try the other. Sick of it back sick of the either. So on. Somehow on. Till sick of both. Throw up and go. Where neither. Till sick of there. Throw up and back. The body again. Where none. The place again. Where none. Try again. Fail again. Better again. Or better worse. Fail worse again. Still worse again. Till sick for good. Throw up for good. Go for good. Where neither for good. Good and all.

So on, somehow on marches ‘Academisation’, all business values and managerialism, being brought into an education sector that is itself falling for business values and managerialism without the need to be turned into academies but we’re sick of the either so we’ll try the other… Whether it works or not… But what works is our mantra, that Blairite creed: “What counts is what works…” has now turned into “What counts is what we say works…” which it always was but… somehow on…

Turning our backs on the bad old days of ideology is one thing, pragmatic managerialism is another, sick of the either, try the other…

But all this is ideological. The online Oxford English Dictionary defines ideology as: ‘A system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of… political theory and policy…’

So let us argue about ideology, rather than pretending it’s all about figures of numbers of failing schools and about the need for every child to get a great education. Every child should get a great education but how to achieve that is not by trying to hoodwink people into believing in easy solutions, tell us the truth and involve us in the conversation.

Go for good. Where neither for good. Good and all.