Book: About our Schools by @brighouse_tim & Mick Waters via @CrownHousePub

Published by Crown House Publishing

About Our Schools: Improving on previous best

£21.99*
8.9

Content

9.0/10

Accessible

9.0/10

Authority

9.5/10

Practical

8.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • A thoroughly comprehensive look at the education system in England, and how political interference is out of touch with the realities of what is needed to support state schools.
  • The book is accompanied by an impressive list of contributors who add their own critique on various aspects of educational policy, offering insights and ideas on how the system can be improved for the benefit of teachers, pupils, and communities.
  • Tim and Mick look back on educational policies, initiatives and schemes within the system in England. Some good, some bad, and some just plain ugly.
  • This is a monster of a book, which will absorb the England-based educational professional as they call for a move away from the marketisation, centralisation and managerialism that has crept in over the past 30 years.
  • Don’t despair, this book is not all about the failures of the education system within England. The authors offer hope, inspiration and ideas on what schools can do to help develop the skills of their teachers and pupils.

Supported by Crown House Publishing


Long before the first reported case of COVID-19, doubts were growing about the ability of present-day schooling to meet the future needs of accelerating change. Our schools and schooling system need to be sure they are preparing all our present and future pupils to live confidently in a world affected by climate change, population growth, AI and robotics, as well as the expansion of the World Wide Web. All of this will have profound implications for curriculum, pedagogy and assessment as well as for deciding how to handle the revolution in human communications.

In light of all this, Tim and Mick say that “we thought now might just be the right time to find a ‘gap in the hedge’ when it comes to school improvement and leadership”.

Many interviewees have been forthright in their opinions. Charles Clarke states that “the biggest failure of the Blair government was not implementing Tomlinson. And then Brown’s government pushed up the school leaving age without thinking what to teach.” Robert Peston adds that:

“It looks from the outside that too much teaching is essentially turning kids into robots. In an age where robots can do the thinking, you will need children who are creative.”
Tim and Mick pose several key questions in these revealing interviews, including:

  • Do politicians help or hinder schools?
  • Are our exams and assessment systems fit for purpose?
  • Are our teachers good enough?
  • Why do we exclude the children who often need learning the most?
  • Are teachers doing the right things for our children?
  • Why do some schools have to carry the children that others do not want?
  • Do we test what our children can do or what they can’t do?
  • Are head teachers in charge of schools?

Taking all the evidence they’ve gathered from their interviews and drawing on their vast experience in the English school system, Tim and Mick set out their agenda for reform.

Their recommendations include:

  • Overhauling the exam and assessment system, replacing compulsory GCSEs with a balanced baccalaureate at age 18
  • Reforming Ofsted
  • Abolishing fixed-term exclusions – exposing the shocking exclusion rates in English schools vs the rest of the UK
  • Introducing a private school equity tax
  • Reforming governance
  • Capping salaries of MAT leaders
  • Implementing new ways to improve social justice and equity, including national grants and fairer admission systems

The book, which emphasises the need for ipsative assessment based on ‘improving on previous best’, contains six foundation stones for a reformed system – including the establishment of an Open School accessible to all and run independently of government, and the creation of consultant expert teachers (analogous to hospital consultant physicians) to fulfil the authors’ belief that too much talent among too many children is lost and that teachers are the key to unlocking it.

Just as there was no wish to return to the 1930s after 1945, Tim and Mick believe that, “after the pandemic, there should not be a wish to get back to the schooling world before COVID. Instead, we need a determination to create a new educational age – a time of hope, ambition and collaborative partnerships. In our new book About Our Schools, we signpost the changes that will lead us to that world as we seek to improve on previous best.”


*RRP – Price correct at time of review publication.

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About @digicoled 437 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.

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