To think that Gove is correct?

(115 Posts)
Trapper Wed 09-Oct-13 07:59:10

Despite the consistently good GCSE and A level grades, we have been ranked 22nd out of 24 OECD countries for literacy and numeracy. AIBU to think Gove is correct to be challenging the status quo and shaking up education?

noblegiraffe Wed 09-Oct-13 10:01:56

Insert the ")" missing from the above.

NCHammerTime Wed 09-Oct-13 10:02:04

CogitoErgoSometimes - why is it logical to assume that methods that worked 40-60 years ago will be suitable for a new generation of children who are growing up in a world with very different resources (e.g. the internet, a wide variety of print resources, educational TV shows and computer games), challenges (e.g. the pressure to use text speak, and far less 1:1 attention inside and outside of school), and prospects (e.g. higher education, service sector jobs, greater access to the professions)?

Furthermore, as others have mentioned on previous threads, "literate" and "numerate" mean different things now from in generations past - the shift away from rote learning is not a shift away from rigour.

My DGF can recite Shelley, Byron, Shakespeare and Keats for hours on end, but he couldn't analyse their work to save his life. My primary and secondary level (struggling) private tuition clients can form and articulate very interesting interpretations with minimal guidance.

Similarly, you can force children to memorise circle theorems and trigonometry, but creativity and lateral thinking skills will be essential in order for them to use that knowledge in real-world applications rather than merely answering basic questions.

I think it's important to prioritise creativity and independent thought from the outset, and recognise that rote learning has a limited use and therefore its use should be limited.

Dahlen Wed 09-Oct-13 10:02:29

THe trouble with the likes of Gove with education and May with the police - and indeed most politicians from all parties - is that they start overhauling systems about which they know very little. I appreciate it's not realistic to expect every Education Secretary of State to have an teaching or research background, but they should not be making changes to a system without extensive consultation with, and being led by, those who have.

kim147 Wed 09-Oct-13 10:03:42

All Gove seems to be doing is setting higher expectations and mucking round with the grade systems.

But without giving teachers freedom away from league tables, OFSTED etc. Teachers are under pressure to perform to what OFSTED expects and to always show progress etc that it is hard to have faith in your way of teaching - which was a feature of a long time ago.

Do other successful countries have OFSTED and league tables? Constant name and shaming.

NCHammerTime Wed 09-Oct-13 10:08:13

Freckled - I grudgingly agree that there are too many bad teachers, but only because I believe that any = too many.

Again, though: I am the kind of person the government says that it wants to attract to teaching - I have a really strong First in a core subject, loads of awards, a lot of experience in working with children in education, a deep and life-long respect for education, and a high level of dedication to the things I care about. I don't even want to be paid very much, and I don't mind putting in long hours at home. And I am telling you that, despite all of that, this government's policies and attitude towards teachers has totally deterred me from applying to do a PGCE Secondary course. How do you expect the quality of teaching to be maintained, let alone improve, when 50% of teachers want to leave the profession and people like me are given no incentive to join it?

Faithless12 Wed 09-Oct-13 10:08:14

YABU.
On the topic of OFSTED, I've often wondered if a one off visit is representative of any school. I think several visits, weeks or even months apart would be better. I remember when I was at school we were told weeks in advance OFSTED were coming and we were to be on our best behaviour. Now that does't happen however, I know a school that knew OFSTED were coming at some point recently and unsurprisingly their rating was higher than the three previous visits...

coldwinter Wed 09-Oct-13 10:08:57

I don't work in teaching, but I did used to work in the public sector as a manager. We had lots of new initiatives and changes. You would just have time to do all the work to implement one big change, and then another one would come along. Constant change like this is destructive to the quality of whatever service you are providing.

I do agree that there has been massive grade inflation, both at schools and universities. And this is helpful to no one.

SilverApples Wed 09-Oct-13 10:10:28

'it is hard to have faith in your way of teaching - which was a feature of a long time ago.'

Yes. Long, long ago. smile
Happy days.
I often wish I'd started teaching ten years earlier, then I'd be retired and watching the chaos instead of swirling around in it.

ClayDavis Wed 09-Oct-13 10:14:42

I'm not sure if they do kim147. Mostly what they have is that education is not the political football that it is in this country, so policy is more stable.

Noble, since Gove is so keen on Singapore, he might want to note that their new maths curriculum is being introduced year by year, so Primary 1 and Secondary 1 this year, P2 and S2 next year and so on. Wouldn't that be a novel idea in this country.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 09-Oct-13 10:20:02

I didn't say it would be logical to assume they would work, I said it would be logical to revisit them. Words are still words and numbers are still numbers whether they are on a screen or in a book.

kim147 Wed 09-Oct-13 10:21:17

I have been in primary education for 13 years. I have lost count of the number of initiatives, frameworks, policies, strategies - all of which are the next best thing. Conferences, meetings, courses, folders, Powerpoints etc - massive differences in teaching. Cross curricular, topic, non topic, QCA, not QCA - so many changes.

SATs, plenaries, mini plenaries etc.

I could do a list.

RooRooTaToot Wed 09-Oct-13 10:22:22

Freckled - a couple of points about your post. It has already been mentioned that Gove is making it easier to employ unqualified teachers. This will make the problem you are describing with subject knowledge worse. I think entry requirements should be stricter.

IMO the difference between state and private schools is not the teachers, but the class sizes and parental support. One of my close friends did her PGCE with me at the same placement schools. We have v. similar backgrounds, teaching style and subject knowledge. After qualifying, she went private and I went state. We use the same exam board and syllabus. (The only reason we were able to was because we became an academy. Prior to this, the government prohibited state schools from doing the IGCSEs that the private schools used.)

Her results are always better than mine on paper. However, her school only has students capable of getting A*-B grades, I have A*-G. Her value added is 3 levels of progress, mine is between 4-5 levels (this means I am ecstatic when some students get a D when according to government expectations they should be getting an E or F based on progress from KS2).

The parents of her students get tutors in when it looks like they may not get their grades. Some of my students' parents tell their kids (and me) that they don't need to get their grades as they never did and it cause them any harm (or they are going to work in the family business after they leave. It's guaranteed, so they don't need to try).

The range of SEN and EAL is far far higher in my school, with the additional challenge of ensuring every lesson is fully differentiated.

We are both outstanding teachers. Our schools are both fantastic at catering for our students' needs. The only reason for difference in attainment is our intake, parental support, class sizes and government restrictions.

ClayDavis Wed 09-Oct-13 10:32:48

Logical based on what, Cogito? The OECD report shows that children are as literate and numerate as their grandparents. That doesn't seem to suggest that it would be worthwhile going back to older teaching methods.

If you look at the countries that performed very highly in both literacy an numeracy they have vastly different teaching methods. If you walked into schools in Japan, Korea, Finland and the Netherlands what you see would be very very different.

Over the long term, looking at OECD and TIMSS studies some of the countries that have made most progress are those that moved away from more traditional methods. None of this to me suggests that going back to old methods would make any difference. What it suggests is that there is something else going on that influences the results.

RooRooTaToot Wed 09-Oct-13 10:37:42

I forgot one other crucial difference between state and private: staff turnover. At my friend's school it is very difficult to be progress up to leadership as barely anyone leaves.

At my school, teachers leave in their droves every year. Most are leaving teaching altogether. Each year an NQT quits before the year is out. Over 50% have left after 2 years.

The main reason they are leaving is the workload and pressure. Private schools have the same workload and same amount of pressures, but the teachers get paid more. Although I run my department, my counter-part who has not managed to secure any additional paid responsibilities, is on £10k more than me a year. It is my strong convictions for state school education that is keeping me from jumping ship if an opportunity arises.

ClayDavis Wed 09-Oct-13 10:49:39

I think curricular freedom and stability might help as well RooRoo. They seem more likely to be able to introduce new initiatives and then drop them if they find they don't work or didn't provide much improvement. Whilst state schools can do this because only the NC is actually statutory there's an element of having to do things because it's what OfSTED expect to see. If the government evaluated properly this wouldn't be a problem but as education policy is decided on soundbites and vote winners there doesn't seem to be much chance of that happening.

allmycats Wed 09-Oct-13 11:07:36

What I truly do not understand is that a young person can come into our business for work experience having a B grade in GCSE English but they can't understand the alphabet, they can't filem and they cannot follow simple written instructions. They can manage A,B,C but put in front of them

Abbott, Ackroyd, Aston, etc and they are clueless, the answer usually being 'well it starts with A, why does it matter ?'

You give them a form to fill in, at the top it says 'Use capital letters and black ink' - they use whichever colour they pick up first and do not print.

NCHammerTime Wed 09-Oct-13 11:16:30

Allmycats - it sounds to me like that person doesn't want to be there, based on the ink thing and the "why does it matter" comment.

Also, they do understand the alphabet, they just don't understand/want to let on that they understand the concept of alphabetizing things. Pretty much everybody in my primary school cohort could do that easily by Year Six, but we did get put on "class librarian" (i.e. re-alphabetizer of the bookshelves) duty for at least a week per year as soon as we were free readers, and spent an afternoon per week in the school library.

The printing vs cursive writing thing is a bit different, I think - there's so much pressure to write clearly in cursive that the "no writing in block caps" message sinks in a bit too deeply for lots of children. None of my students understood what I meant when I asked them to print their names (in preparation for printing names on exam booklets), and when I explained they told me that they were only allowed to write in cursive at school.

shebird Wed 09-Oct-13 11:42:03

Most schools seem to spend their time trying to please OFSTED instead of trying to teach. Everything is focused on getting all the boxes ticked with schools living in fear of a bad inspection because they haven't demonstrated a whole raft of requirements.

If schools were able to concentrate less on trying to please OFSTED with all their requirements, fancy classroom displays and oceans of plans and learning outcomes then teachers might actually have time to teach. No new initiatives, no more paperwork just reform the role of OFSTED Mr Gove.

kim147 Wed 09-Oct-13 11:45:06

shebird

Exactly.

harticus Wed 09-Oct-13 11:49:07

allmycats -
I worked with a young girl who was on a gap year before uni.
She had to work out 12 items at 10p each.
She wrote down a column of 10s and added them up.

shebird Wed 09-Oct-13 11:51:40

harticus shock

angelos02 Wed 09-Oct-13 11:56:20

harticus that is shocking. An 8 year old should be able to do that.

kim147 Wed 09-Oct-13 11:58:05

I've seen that in teenagers. Pupils who do not understand how to multiply or what multiplication is.

So they use a secure method that works.

NoComet Wed 09-Oct-13 12:00:09

My very hard working, dyslexic DD1 needs a B in English for her chosen sixth form.

You can guess her opinion of Mr. Gove!angry

pointythings Wed 09-Oct-13 12:20:17

Education does need to change. The one change it needs is for politicians to keep out of it. I'd suggest a 10-year moratorium on all educational change, starting now, so that schools and teachers can work knowing that the goal posts won't move for an entire cohort from start to finish. Then if you measure the outcomes for that cohort, at least you'll know what you're measuring.

How many structural changes in the system have their been for that 16-24 year old cohort? That's what has been measured, and it's a disaster. Gove is just more of the same, and worse.

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