Over recent years there have been some fundamental changes to the education system in England: a new National Curriculum, the removal of levels in national curriculum assessments and revisions to general qualifications. New, more demanding tests were introduced for Key Stage 1 and 2 in 2016. At GCSE level, revised examinations in English and Mathematics were introduced during that year, with all other subjects coming on-stream over the next couple of years. The more demanding standards, the revised grading system and what constitutes an acceptable ‘pass’ will continue to challenge society over the next couple of years.
“When am I ever going to use Pythagoras?”; “Why do I need to know what a noun is?”; “What’s the point in learning this?”... Sound familiar? You must be a teacher. If you’ve been teaching for some time, you probably know that questioning the purpose of education is nothing new. Do you ever wonder what your parents were like at school? Did they ask the same questions when it was their turn?
The benefits of physical exercise on academic learning have long been documented, yet three years after Public Health England issued a report detailing the positive link between pupil health and wellbeing and academic attainment, young people’s participation rate in physical exercise is still falling.
‘Being at the forefront of educational innovation' and 'never standing still' are two phrases that describe my faculty and school well. After we moved from Requires Improvement to Outstanding after our 2015 Ofsted inspection, the very next day our headteacher began to use the phrase “beyond outstanding”.
There is an abundance of initiatives helping to ensure that young citizens-in-the-making go on to a future beneficial for all living things. To help identify some of the exciting avenues that are opening up, here is a table with nine facets of education, and some critical thinking prompts, that could typify what forward-thinkers have been endeavouring to bring to fruition:
Although the government would argue differently, those of us on the education front-line know that there has been a sustained and systematic marginalisation of creative arts subjects in Secondary schools. The introduction of the EBacc in 2010 forced school leaders to focus their diminishing budgets on the subjects that the then minister for education deemed worthy. According to the 2015 Warwick Commission report this has, in part, contributed to a 50% drop in GCSE numbers for Design and Technology.
Over the years, several studies have revealed the benefit - even necessity - of spending time outdoors and when the great outdoors is combined with education, it can have vast benefits. Learning outside can help provide a holistic approach towards learning with immense academic, social and emotional benefits for students. Although most children go on school trips several times a year, they don’t often get the opportunity to enjoy nature as part of their school day, which means they could be missing out on opportunities to excel both academically and socially.
Having taught now since 2008, and having been a subject lead since 2010, I have seen through a fair share of changes to the History curriculum. When I first arrived, my school was teaching a traditional KS3 system (think Romans, 1066 and all that, Medieval life in Year 7) before a GCSE and A-Level that bore no link or pathway to the GCSE. Since then, “what sort of curriculum?” has become a key part of the historical debate.