A teacher getting the children to self assess their work against the lesson aims and objectives.
between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of
each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in
different zones, or inhabitants of different planets. The rich and the poor.”
Benjamin Disraeli(1804- 1881)
On the 14th
June 2017 a fire broke out at The Grenfell Tower in North Kensington. It killed
Disraeli was acutely aware of the divides in society in the 19th century.
He mentions lack of intercourse, lack of sympathy and what is more, ignorance
of each other. The response of the Tory Council of Kensington and Chelsea to
the fire at Grenfell was appalling. The councilors did not know their own
constituents. The leaders of the wealthiest London Borough had no relationship
with the poor people of their borough. The head of housing at Westminster and
Chelsea had never set foot in Grenfell Tower.
The local community around
Grenfell responded to the disaster immediately. The borough councilors, on the other hand, had no concept
of the disaster. Their response was woefully inadequate. They didn’t know the
people they were dealing with. This was a culture they didn’t and couldn’t connect
with.We have a
divided Britain, rich and poor, the socially advantaged and the socially deprived and
as Disraeli was aware of in his day, in the present day case of Grenfell, one group did not understand the other.
We have people who feel
entitled to get top jobs. We have people who are perceived to benefit from an
elite educational experience, because of their background. We have people who
are destined for the low wage gig economy and who are perceived to have had a
poor education all because of their perceived, underprivileged, upbringing. It is even more subtle than that. The great majority who get good educations through
the comprehensive system and go to one of the many universities, not under the ,"Oxbridge," remit, who are able and talented, still do not get the opportunity to
rise past a,” glass ceiling.” because of their starting point in life. There is very little social movement in this country.
in education is needed. The way education is fractured and divided in
this country is the root cause of our societies divisions, our lack of “intercourse
and no sympathy,” our feelings of entitlement or lack of entitlement. In this
country we have the public schools, Eton, Harrow, Westminster,
Winchester, private prep schools, Grammar Schools, Comprehensives run by local councils and state junior and infant schools.
schools dominate entrance into Oxford and Cambridge universities. If you go to
one of those two universities, you are guaranteed life at the top of society.
You become leaders of industry, government ministers and the decision makers.
The lesser public schools provide entrance into the rest of the top
universities in Britain and these people become lawyers, managing directors, accountants, surgeons. Grammar schools compete on somewhat equal terms with these lesser public schools.Comprehensives provide pupils with entrance into the rest of the universities, colleges, apprenticeship schemes and vocational courses. The poorest achievers at this level are lost to society and the low wage economy if they actually get a job. None of these outcomes relate directly to ability and achievement. They relate to being rich and poor and the environment a person lives in. The school system we have just entrenches this.
schools are the most damaging. They are a conscious act of dividing society and
deciding who gets what in life. With the public schools it is down to birth and
the wealth of your family. With Grammar Schools the government purposely,
through the blunt instrument of an 11+ style exam, splits one group of children
from the rest.
Theresa May, in 2016, announced her radical ideas for education. She wanted Grammar Schools to expand. She wanted more working class children to go to them. She also thought public schools should sponsor and develop new comprehensive secondary schools in their area. Universities should also provide support by annexing or creating new schools local to them . This was her (Conservative) approach to expanding opportunites and creating a meritocartic society. If you look at what she proposes it is more of the same, in larger doses, creating more divisions rather than bridging and removing the divides in our society.
An example of why her proposals cannot work is an experiment carried out In 1965, The Marlborough experiment. The Witlshire Local Education authority along with Marlborough School set up the experiment. Twenty one boys from Swindon schools were chosen, after they had completed their o'levels, to go to Marlborough to do their A levels. By the end of their time at Marlborough, eight boys had succeeded but the rest had not achieved well. The eight boys who did well appeared to have rejected their background and adapted to the new culture of Marlborough. The rest had been unable to adapt to what they saw as an alien world with traditions, rules and attitudes they did not understand.
We need a
truly comprehensive system in this country. This patchwork of systems, public,
private, grammar, academy chains and a dwindling number of education authority schools needs to be got rid of and we need a comprehensive system
for everybody. A comprehensive school should be part of the local community. It
can be a place where everybody from whatever background and ability should be
educated together. We would see ourselves then as one people. The lack of social
cohesion and the gulf in our society would be given a chance to fade and heal.Schools should be grouped under a similar system to the dieing system of education authorites because that worked. The old style Education Authorities provided in-service training for the individual needs of teachers and the particular needs of schools.Schools were allowed a certain autonomy which made each school unique. Education authorities had an amazing team of subject inspectors who got to know teachers and schools personally.
After the Plowden report in 1964, education began to focus on the individual child building creativity and problem solving skills and teachers were generally allowed to develop as skilled practitioners and learned to really teach children. We have got away from that concept and governments nowadays use the OFSTED system of inspection that promotes the ideals of the government. Teacher assessment based on government guidelines , pay linked to those assessments and a national curriculum that is imposed and requires given methods of teaching supported by continuous child testing and the application of levels at all ages is draconian and destructive. The idea of learning based on the needs and interests of the child has gone.
A meaningful educational environment for all.
Child centered education is achievable.A system that was wrongly derided for letting children just get on with their learning without support was not the child centerd approach I recognised. Child centerd education is about discovering the needs of children and providing them with rich learning experiences.
If every child in the country went to a comprehensive the whole
education system could focus on all our children together as equals and value their individuality and personal needs and provide
a high standard of education for the whole population and not be distracted and
demeaned and damaged by other systems competing. Schools should be grounded in their community and create their own ethos and traditions. Being community based, members of the community should have a say in a schools education policies. A school should provide a broad
education for everybody and what is more, provide lifelong learning.That would take a giant leap in imagination and require an understanding of education for everybody.
Confidence and a sense of self are so important to our development as human beings. If that sense is destroyed the moment we are born the consequences are dire. Thinking that others are better or less than us destroys us as an individual and destroys society as a whole. I was on a bus recently travelling from Wimbledon to Raynes Park. Some boys from Kings College Wimbledon, an expensive private day school, got on and sat near me. One of them looked out of the window and saw some Raynes Park High School boys. I heard him say. “I am so glad I never had to go to Raynes Park.” The others agreed with him. How destructive is that?
A classroom display with children's work, information and some open and closed questions displayed.