Q1 What are the implications of whole system academisation?
Q2 How can we address and correct the misconceptions of teaching?
Q3 Writing – how can the gender attainment gap be reduced?
Q4 The Brain Drain – how do we retain?
Q5 Singing from the same song sheet – how to tighten you whole school approach to the curriculum.
Q6 Crossing the threshold – how do you foster home-school links?
Q7 Spelling and Grammar – what is the most effective way to teach content?
Q8 What are the implications of the budget on the education system?
The Eclectic Mix of Education Issues began with a question that served as front running issue for educational practitioners – what were the implications of whole system academisation? It was interesting to see the wide range of ideas, beliefs and attitudes toward Nicky Morgan’s most recent proposal and the impact that it left upon the profession. In many cases, tweets focused upon the rigid and “non-negotiable” attitude of the proposed conversion process – with all school being academised by 2020. It was clear that a number of practitioners are concerned by the governments apparent disregard for choice and that the academisation of schools would lead to a financially incentive approach to education. Despite this, other argued that (having worked within the academy setting) that there were clear benefits to the conversion. Whatever the belief amongst the contributors, the overriding thought was to wait and see.
The discussion then shifted to focus upon the misconceptions of the teaching profession – the finish at three and ridiculously long holidays – and how these could be corrected in the public perception. Many discussed the idea that we needed to prove the worth of education and that the public should get behind practitioners to provide outstanding support. This, however, did not answer the questions main focus and so the discussion was focused to consider the use of television documentaries (such as the Educating series by Channel 4) and the impact that this had on the public perception – something that proved to divide opinion…not least Sir Michael Wilshaw.
When considering how to address the gap in attainment between girls and boys, many believed the classifications of “Good at X, Y and Z” was unhelpful in addressing the issue. Some argued that the use of rich, diverse and engaging texts was the catalyst required to drive improvements but, as is clear through the national attainment gaps, no defined reasons for why (and indeed how to address) the issue could be identified.
The discussion continued, though still heavily dominated by the academisation issue, to consider the current brain drain of teaching and how to tighten a whole school appoarch. Again, public perception was cited as a way of retaining teaching staff as well as government incentives to boost the moral of practitioners. Similarly, many argued that a whole school approach could be tightened through an open forum of discussion and shared practice – something that would need to be looked at further if it were to be used.
Attitudes to foster home-school links provided some insightful discussion. Some suggested the use of open classrooms, in which parents and carers could attend lessons to see the pracitce in force, as well as frequent parent-teacher meetings. It was expressed that, whilst these things might be beneficial, time and relevance was an issue for some and whether these morning attracted the specific parents that they were intending to support. The provision of support for parents, from school, was also discussed as a way to strengthen home-school links. In providing parents with methods to support their children, they may feel empowered to engage with school life and support the learning of their children at home. Again, this was something that divide opinion and, as was clear from the discussion, is something that schools must consider on an individual basis.
Unfortunately, due to the depth of discussion surrounding the other issues, the question regarding the teaching of spelling, grammar and punctuation did not receive the focus that it required to build in-depth discussion. Despite this, some offered suggestions of ensuring that SPAG, GPS (or whatever it is to be known as) should remain relevant with children using real examples of their use to develop and strengthen their understanding.
Finally, the implications of the budget was some that – due to the release of the “white paper” – was dominated by a wait and see mentality in order to fully understand the approach that the government would take.
All in all, the discussion surrounding such an Eclectic Mix was diverse and inspirational. So many people offering such rich and encouraging advice was astonishing and hopefully, as we discover more, the discussion will continue to grow. I would like to thank all of those who spent their time aiding and contributing that evening! Till next time, take care.