Chalk Talk: Lesson one - don't pay too much attention to the Government
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.
Thursday 08 December 2011
To the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust conference in Birmingham, where headteachers were told that they should not take the Government's education reforms too seriously. The exhortation came from Sir Ken Robinson, the international expert on promoting creativity in education, who said that if they wait for government reforms to raise standards, many of their pupils will miss out because they will have left school.
"It's important for people in the profession not to get the Government's role out of proportion," he told me. "They came in with a wave of revolutionary zeal – mainly regressive rather than progressive. However, change is much more sophisticated than waiting for the latest White Paper to raise standards." Instead, they should ensure they have a tailor-made curriculum to develop the needs of each pupil. "Every child has talent," he said. "It's just a question of teasing it out."
Sir Ken chaired a national commission on creativity, education and the economy a decade ago for the then Labour government. He has advised governments around the world on how best to promote creativity in the classroom. In his speech, he also criticised what he sees as an over-concentration on the so-called STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths. "As important as they are – and they are – the whole message is that if you're not good at science or technology or these activities then we don't need you at the moment," he said.
But the assembled heads took heart from the fact that the Government didn't matter.
A reflection on the one-day pensions strike last week that was apparently a "damp squib", according to Prime Minister David Cameron. Apparently, support spread to Washington, where there was a picket of the British Embassy organised by the National Education Association, which has 3.2 million members. Meanwhile, we may have somewhat underestimated the strength of Education International last week – which backed the strike. It represents 30 million teachers around the world, not 10 million.
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