During the maelstrom of the last few weeks of birthday parties, weddings and visitors, I haven’t had much time for writing or blog posts, but I have been flicking through my twitter feed and I quite like the weekly e mail that sorts through my twitter feed and tells me what I might be interested in.
A recurrent theme has been the planned changes to the UK National Curriculum. I’ve got a kind of vested interest as I was trained to be a primary teacher in the UK just as the National Curriculum was introduced. I was well trained and because it was a time of great change, it enabled me to be a flexible teacher. But the National Curriculum didn’t let me be a good teacher, so I left. I worked in Mexico which showed me that when the staff are committed to work together to make the school an educationally excellent establishment, anything can happen. At the end of my two years there my boss told me I would never work in another school like it.
The next school in Madrid was very different, but again I still remember that buzz I felt on my first day when two of the staff who had just completed the TRAINER training in the IB Primary Years Programme gave us their first workshop. During those two days I realised that there was an education system that fitted the way I wanted to teach and this was it.
I loved the PYP so much that I decided that I would never work in anything BUT a PYP school. I was a tad evangelical in those days. I’m a little more reflective and critical nowadays and while I still LOVE the PYP in capital letters, there are areas where it could be better. And as a teacher, working in a school in Paris where the staff are committed to making the school an educationally excellent establishment I am in prime position to do just that. Have you spotted the recurrent theme in my post yet?
So, when I read about the proposed changes to the National Curriculum it makes me a little sad. Learning poetry off by heart? Personally, I cannot memorise anything to save my life, but stick it to music, different story. The thing is I don’t think that Gove is talking about nursery rhymes is he? He’s talking about the kind of exam which filled me with anxiety because I have no memory and which I failed again and again. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because I couldn’t remember how to do it. The whole concept of the EBacc first makes me laugh, did Gove actually do any research at all? But then it makes me want to cry, see the previous reason.
Then I read Emma Barnes post on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, about proposed changes to the teaching of reading and I began to get very interested. I did a bit of research. I found the OFSTED recommendations which seemed to say over and over again: read for enjoyment. I wondered what the fuss was about. I read some of Michael Rosen’s: Letters from a curious parent series and some news headlines and it things became a little clearer. It seems (and this is a MAJOR paraphrase) that Gove has not listened to Ofsted or, if stories are to be believed, his own consultants.
So, as a teacher this is my point. I didn’t have the courage to go through all the PISA: Signs of our Times data, so I used the Guardian’s data where the UK currently lies 20th in reading, 22nd in Maths and 11th in Science. However, there was something in the PISA document that I found interesting and I might go back and read. It was the section about, who makes the education policies. Now I haven’t read it, but I’m going to hazard a guess here, a hypothesis, a supposition: The countries that allow the education experts (like say, Australia who are 6th) to make the policies do better.
- ‘Slow down’ Tory MP tells Gove (bbc.co.uk)
- Simon Jenkins on Education in England – A Devastating Critique (3diassociates.wordpress.com)
- The Ebacc is a sad result of political rhetoric and empty intervention (guardian.co.uk)
- Dear Mr Gove: Michael Rosen’s letter from a curious parent (guardian.co.uk)