Chalk Talk: Impressive results in the Far East - a 'shadow' over plans to improve our schools?
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Wednesday 05 February 2014
The vogue is to marvel at the achievements of Far Eastern education systems such as South Korea, Japan and Shanghai in China. After all, they performed far better than us in the international Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests in literacy and numeracy so we should be able to learn something from them.
Perhaps, though, a note of caution should be sounded before our education leaders stampede to the airports. A blog posted by a Japan-based educationalist on the website of Schools Improvement Net, dedicated to sharing ideas about improving school standards, gives another explanation.
It seems, according to education writer, Manabu Watanbe, that the impressive results in the Far East may not be down to the performance of schools.
He cites research which shows that in China 73.8 per cent of primary school students received "shadow education", ie, supplementary schools or private tutors. A similar picture emerges in Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.
Watanbe argues that shadow education is best developed in Japan where about 50,000 "juku" companies have set up, offering distance learning to pupils out of school.
Step off the plane, then. Go to Finland, another high performer, instead?
The vagaries of testing very young children emerged at a conference last week about the Government's new curriculum for primary schools. It is very likely children will undergo "baseline assessment" – testing when they start school so their progress can be measured at the national curriculum tests at 11.
According to Jan Dubiel, from Early Excellence and one of the guest speakers at the conference: "If it is very young children [who are tested], you're not going to get meaningful data." The conference, organised by Westminster Education Forum, was told of one group of children who, when tested on a Monday, were considered "gifted and talented" but, by Friday, registered as "special needs". The answer seems obvious: test them on a Wednesday...
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
Ian Thorpe gay: Olympic swimmer comes out in Parkinson interview
Gaza-Israel conflict: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators take to streets of London, Paris and New York in wave of protests
Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli air strike destroys home for the disabled killing two women residents
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli PM says conflict may 'continue for a long time' as hundreds of Palestinians flee their homes
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
- 1 Stephen Fry ‘criticises Operation Yewtree in dinner party rant’ calling for tougher laws to deter false sex abuse allegations
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...
Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad urgently seeks a qualif...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...
£120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: **Science Teacher Urgently ...