Standing on the shoulders of giants

Well, if others are fiddling,  I’ll throw in my two-penneth worth!

Firstly on the Ebacc. On the face of it, it sounds like the sort of sensible Options advice that would be given at the end of KS3:  “You’ve got to take English, Maths and Science, a Humanities and a Modern Foreign Language”.  But the reality is that:

  • Mr. Gove seems to want to give precedence to some subjects over others:  the restriction (real, imaginary or as an unanticipated consequence) of the Arts and Technologies in the KS4 landscape is a disgrace – especially given that they are major industries in the UK.
  • Secondly that Mr. Gove appears to know more about how to teach a subject than the professionals, since he wants to prescribe subject content (at least in History).
  • And thirdly, the slur on the integrity of all teachers:  that coursework might be subject to abuse.

I’ve oft heard it said that students are coming out of education without the necessary skills to write a letter or understand their pay-slip or a bill.  Surely every student needs to leave school with a good level of literacy and numeracy,  the good sense to know what’s dangerous,  and to be able to cook and fend for themselves. Would it not be better to say that a student has to continue to study Life Skills until they can maintain a certain Level (which could be moderated)?

And at the other end;  for those aspiring to academic heights?  Well, shouldn’t a University be at liberty to make their own assessment of the potential student for themselves?

Which leaves the nitty-gritty of KS 4 & 5.

With the concept of a baccalaureate being in vogue at the moment, educationalists are re-evaluating the IBO.  I like some of the IBO philosophy – the breadth, and the (varieties of) depths too.  It feels like what a group of teachers would sit down and come up with, given half the chance.  But a baccalaureate isn’t the only model out there, and isn’t necessarily the best. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority offers Levels 1 – 3 – the equivalent of GCSE, AS and A2 for example. I’ve already posted about the merits of modules in the exam, where each piece of work is awarded points.  Moreover, if say a student happens to be a musician, but hasn’t opted to study Music, they can still get credits by doing a recital, thus the system reflects the student’s abilities.

Throughout their education, students should be exposed to a broad range of disciplines, and be allowed to pursue their interests.  Each subject needs to have a comprehensive syllabus covering knowledge and skills which increases in difficulty.  And the school curriculum needs to prepare students for more than just going to Yew-nee.

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