Checking back through the Twitter stream tonight I was struck by the following set of tweets that says so much about the current state of education worldwide in one word, politicians.
The day in Australia began with news that the Federal Government was going to assign an identity number to all school students in order that their performance can be tracked even more minutely than previously. At the same time the Minister for Education was glorying in the pronouncement that….
As a nation we are about to move to a national curriculum of true rigour…….. For too long, what is taught in schools has been a mystery to Australian parents and employers.
Now we could quibble just a little with the latter point as most state jurisdictions make their curriculum documents freely available online and schools and teacher generally spend an inordinate amount of time interpreting the curriculum for their community via all manner of forums. To have it insinuated that the curriculum they have been working with for the last ??? years somehow lacks rigour is simply insulting and demeaning of the very folk who have worked within its constraints and who now will called upon to make this “new” curriculum work. Oh and minister I can remember the boring and pointless to most of us, grammar lessons that many of my classmates around me failed but I thrived on because I was much better at remembering facts than them, so to claim that ….
For the first time, grammar will be set out explicitly at every year level.
is drawing a long bow.
Enough of the rants though because the BBC reflecting on the latest report from OFSTED redressed this suggestion that politicians know education better that the practitioners who work in the role every day in stating that schools were suffering from “initiative overload” whilst the Telegraph asked that schools be “released from all this red tape”. Tellingly the OFSTED report concluded that it was the quality of the teacher that made the key difference.
Where used well, the report said, the principles promoted by national strategies were drawn on by good teachers, honing their skills. But where teachers were weak, their execution was less effective, it said.
The most damming result of all this meddling in the UK is that the National Strategy which was to bring a new nirvana has now been shelved as the very statistics that were used to justify its existence have now trended in the opposite direction. This leads one to ponder how long before Australian teachers also buckle under the meddling of our political masters and the numbers here also peak and/or trend down.
Oh and beautiful absurdity of all this interference can be found in the the tweet from @adrian_camm who alerted me to the Learning in Informal Online Networks and Communities report that in one of its conclusions suggested that…..
Educational institutions should empower teachers with an innovation space that allows experimentation and development of new practices