A French group consider a radical disruptive education model!

The Normandy Region vocational training seminar

David Margueritte, Normandy Region is interviewed at Leerpark Dordrecht, The Netherlands

Attached is a video of the very successful seminar held at The Leerpark Dordrecht The Netherlands.We cannot comment on our involvement other than to say we are engaged in the process of defining it and hope to be invited to be a key member.  https://twitter.com/DMARGUERITTE

As you will see from the video the seminar was very successful and we hope to hold more for other clients. If you would like to know more about how this model can solve youth unemployment, otherwise known as the skills gap, please contact me.

Chris Heron

Imagine you are the new Minister for Education The RSA

Imagine you are the new Minister for Education The RSA

Imagine you are the new Minister for Education, so saysThe RSA in their new report on education reform.

I should declare a vested interest here as I am a Fellow The RSA and I fully support their mission.

In this paper they throw their ‘hat into the ring’ of education reform.

They set out a programme to create innovative teacher leaders to lead education reform from inside the system.

1. Build the case for change
2. Encourage government to desist from short terms reforms
3. Develop a different type of accountability
4. Create space for local curriculums
5. Prioritise creative assessment
6. Place a focus on creating innovative teachers
7. Create a creative incubator for education
8. Create peer teacher learning groups foster innovation
9. Develop system entrepreneurship

The report further sets out six contestable hypothesis for debate

1. System leaders need to focus on the best values
2. Mandate the good unleashes greatness
3. Reevaluate the education model
4. Create new patterns and ecosystems
5. School is an important institution
6. Learners need to be enabled and empowered

For those of you who do not know of The RSA,(Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), was formed in 1754, is based in London and is an august and well thought of association who have very strong and clear thoughts on the role that education should play. This new report and shortly to be annouced public debate aims to put to them in he centre of the debate about educatin reform.

They have a powerful and influential network of twenty seven thousand thought leaders who are motivated by the mission.

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) to give its full and very grand title, says it’s mission ‘is to enrich society through ideas and action.’

We believe that all human beings have creative capacities that, when understood and supported, can be mobilised to deliver a 21st-century enlightenment.
We work to bring about the conditions for this change, not just amongst our diverse Fellowship, but also in institutions and communities.
By sharing powerful ideas and carrying out cutting-edge research, we build networks and opportunities for people to collaborate – creating fulfilling lives and flourishing society.’

The report itself is well written and researched and is a good starting point for those who want a non-commercial and unbiased view of the current position of education.

I have read it all and I even spotted a typo, not like me so I must have been engaged.

I would encourage everyone interested in the subject to read it carefully; I did.

I understand the position they take of empowering teachers and as an ex-teacher I think that this is an important place to start and can be a good initiative to arrest the decline in numbers of great new teachers leaving the profession after only a few years.

However, I believe that motivating learners and changing the style of learning is the priority and I am not sure that those already within the system can do this quickly as it is a systemic problem. We also know that trying to turn government policy is like try to push The Titanic uphill.

Apart from speed of change there is a danger that this important contribution may not be aligned with other initiatives and in an increasingly diverse and debated area may ‘wither on the vine’, or note achieve as much traction as it deserves.

Although I suppose by creating a willing and talented force for change within teaching they could create a place where new ideas are tried and from this group could come a force for change.

I particularly like the idea of a ‘creativity incubator.’

Please read it and tell me what you think? I warn you though you will need a good fire and at least one glass of good red wine, I did!

To read the full report click here and to visit the RSA website click here.

Lessons from Finland kill 99% of GERMS

Lessons from Finland kill 99% of GERMS

‘Lessons from Finland kill 99% of GERMS’, what a brilliant headline to this piece by Pasi Sahlberg a Finnish education innovator and commentator.

What he is referring to in GERMS is the acronym for The Global Education Reform Movement.

In a brutal but fair summary of the changes and policies, other countries have adopted he surmises they would have all been better off using the Finnish system and avoiding GERMS. But here I think we need to differentiate between government and centralised change and the external ideas and concepts.

He is quite correct in his summary of what has been called a ‘reform movement’ and what it’s policies have been.

  1. Standardisation
  2. Focus on core subjects
  3. Quicker and cheaper way of achieving learning goals
  4. Corporate management models
  5. Test-based accountability

I have written about Ed 3.0 and the education revolution, or reform before, but Pasi’s piece has made me think that we should also consider what damage has been done by the poor recent centralised changes.

Standardisation in the 80’s and 90’s across western European and the USA concentrated on the outcomes of education as the indicator for improved education by testing students and teachers.

In fact, what has happened is stress and breakdown in the processes as I wrote last week in my piece about Stress and Tragedy in the UK Education System.

It also has managed to achieve the lowest common denominator and made individuality and creativity in the teaching process impossible.

Of course, the drive was financially based and a good example of how to apply management philosophy to learning without understanding what damage it will do.

The other change to accompany standardisation was the focus on core subjects which while logical has again been detrimental to the teaching process.

The subjects not included in the ‘core’, were humanities, arts, music and physical education and we have caused numerous social problems, like obesity as a result of this act. We also realise now that we lack creative thinking in our student output mainly as a consequence of these two initiatives.

The outcome of the first two concepts is to make schools and teachers take a pragmatic and effect based views of their profession and process.

The emphasis on results and measurement by testing has restricted teachers time and input to focus on ways of achieving the results which in turn causes teachers to teach for exams.

The outcome is we now have students who know how to pass exams but not to think. Not surprising really?

The use of the business model and cultures on education has driven the pursuit of business, economic and fiscal goals above goals based on moral, cultural and human improvement and values.

Lastly, test accountability and the above models have created a fear of being punishment amongst teachers and schools and diverted attention from teaching to avoiding penalties, a real corporate malaise that destroys freedom and creativity.

Pasi goes on to say that none of these ideas have been adopted in Finland where they would rather promote the creativity of teachers, students and the overall happiness and achievements of students.

Needless, to say they score highly on academic scales such as PISA.

Here, however, I start to disagree, I think that he is oversimplifying the issues.

There is no doubt that by not taking these measures the Finnish education system offers good ‘control’ of what might have happened if we had not gone in this direction.

But I would propose three things;

  1. First they are doing well because they have an advanced culture in and so the education system and its achievements are part of a wider social success
  2. Second that they are also facing problems in common with other education systems
  3. Third that the motivation of students comes from independence, relevant factual teaching context and understanding how learning helps them to achieve their individual goals

While it is interesting to analyse why we are where we are, the problems caused by the policies above are only part of the picture.

The main issues are and will remain as follows

  1. Central control of education policy and curricula
  2. The fear of change and innovation in teachers and schools
  3. Not understanding what the overall goals of education are
  4. Not understanding how to engage with online learning and commerce
  5. Not teaching teachers new skills because of the lack of strategic vision
  6. Not putting teachers and students at the centre of the process

So it’s interesting to look back and assess where we’ve come from only if it helps us to look forward.

As Einstien said, ‘ We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.’

Albert Einstein

Funny, I keep finding myself coming back to this quote again and again.

So let’s look forward and think creatively about this problem and come up with new solutions!





Stress and tragedy in the UK education system

Stress and tragedy in the UK education system


Today I find myself writing about stress and tragedy in the UK education system. It’s not a cheerful subject, and I was prompted to think about it when I saw these two headlines BBC Education website.

The first was ‘Stressed teachers being ‘reduced to tears’.

The second was ‘Rising numbers of stressed students seek help.’

I have personal experience of both problems, unfortunately.

A few years ago, when I was teaching, I experienced extreme anxiety when faced with a very difficult class in an inner city school in Luton.

I managed to find some strategies to turn the class around and ended up having a very close relationship with them and enjoying my experience of teaching them.

However, before that, I remember feeling like giving up never seeing them again or, stepping foot in that school again.

Relating to the subject of mental illness in students and stress in higher education I will sadly relate the story of my youngest daughter who is now in her third year at a UK university studying Sociology.

In her first year, she was having a little get-together with five or six other students high up in an apartment building on the campus. They were all in the kitchen of a student’s flat preparing something to eat left one of the boys alone in the sitting room. She said she went back into the sitting room, but he wasn’t there.

She looked around the room but couldn’t see anybody but noticed the window was open. She looked in the hallway but nobody was there and with a growing sense of trepidation went to look out of the window.

When she looked down, she saw his body on the ground below.

It was a desperately sad incident for the whole University, and everyone involved including the family of the dead boy, of course. To this day in nobody knows what happened but all the students present were traumatised and depressed for a long period. Some of them dropped out of their course, and some took time out.

I’m sure nobody will ever forget it, and I just mentioned this in case anybody thinks the stories are exaggerated.

I’ve written a long and often about education reform and the indications that our education system is not working.

However, when I saw these two headlines this morning, I was prompted to write something relating to my experiences and those of my daughter.

It is depressing that some teachers and students feel this way when we all know how good learning is when it goes well.

Apart from the statistics that exist about stressed teachers and students it is impossible to measure the damaging effect of these bad learning experiences upon the futures of teachers, students and ultimately, all of society.

We know that the world needs millions more teachers in the very near future, and we also know that many teachers are leaving the profession for reasons that are largely not measured or specified.

More importantly we have no figures for the damage that this is doing to our society in general.

If only we could turn this around and make the experience of teaching and learning the exciting and pleasurable things it should be. We have Sir Anthony Selsdon, the former headmaster of Wellington School, commenting that the Chinese should change their systems and do away with ‘rote’ learning. He goes on to say that our system is preferable to their’s

But is he right, is ours that much better?

We have a system that is clearly not working and which is damaging people teachers and students. Furthermore when you talk to employers, the output that they are receiving from the education system is not as it should be, and we have millions of graduate students unemployed, or underemployed in jobs that they shouldn’t be doing.

Employers are crying out that in the current buoyant UK economic conditions they have jobs available and cannot find people with the right skills to fill the vacancies?

Against this background, all that the government does is to pay lip service to supporting teachers, while dumbing the system down to improve the statistics on a false basis to make everybody think that it’s okay.

If you have any friends who are teachers, talk to them about what’s happening and make up your minds up. Talk to your children about how they feel about their school they will be happy to tell you.

Sir Anthony, much as I respect your achievements and your consideration of the problems in education, should we not look to our system before we criticise other people’s?

The frightening thing is that it is not just the UK that is suffering these problems, they are global. From the USA to Saudi Arabia and from the UK to Greece the problems are very similar. It is only in Asia where are the culture is different that we have students achieving great results but at the cost of their independence and ability to think creatively.

Inevitably things will change, particularly with the disintermediation of the Internet and the fact that education is now a worldwide market. The intervention of bodies outside the official education system will force it as the law of supply and demand inevitably takes its effect on a failing system. If the education system does not change fast enough, it will be found to be increasingly irrelevant which would be very sad.

However, if things could change faster to include all those millions of teachers and well-intentioned education managers, we would all be much better off.

Unfortunately, the current indications would seem to say this may not happen?







In an article called, ‘Is 2016 The Year That Progressive Education Returns’, Robert Sun discusses the past and current education trends and predicts that 2016 will be the for Passion-Based-Learning. I am sure we hope it is!

Progressive Education was a movement responding to a rigid education system based on 19-century principles. It sought to break away from a curriculum based subject approach and teaching themes cutting across subjects, motivating students by harnessing their enthusiasm and basing content on real life experiences.

Not so different to what many have been talking about for the 21 century?

After initial success, it fell victim to post-war conservatism and the fear of the ‘cold war’ propaganda, which was a shame. It has remerged today under a different guise but driven by a similar motive to find something to suit a changing society where the demands of the labour market are not being met by current education systems and pedagogy.

The drivers now are

  • learners styles and behaviours have changed and are no longer compatible with teaching styles
  • society and the job market are changing faster than ever before, and employees have to embrace constant and life-long learning to keep up
  • the demands are for skills, not a fact based approach

But today with faster communication on The Internet the speed of change to drive these movements is faster, and access to alternative means of educating, like home-based learning make opting out more viable. The trend of rejecting traditional education is growing fast.

Robert says,

‘One need only look at the state of education in the U.S. today to realize people are looking for answers. The pushback over high-stakes testing isn’t abating; in New York state alone, 20% of all public school students—more than 200,000 in all—have opted out of such tests. In Pennsylvania, the opt-out movement has grown by more than 300%.’

Some countries have already moved in this direction, and there are exploratory progressive programmes in Scandanavia and Holland which have been very successful.

But it’s not just formal education that needs to change in response to the above drivers, it is also a recruitment processes.

Measuring academic success as a predictor of job success is not working, and human resource managers are looking for new ways to measure the holistic skills and traits of candidates in addition to looking at their academic records.

There are currently many barriers to change.

  • teachers skills and attitudes
  • centralised control and funding of education
  • over testing and rigid system
  • lack of e learning integration

Perhaps the biggest problem, however, is that there is no cross-discipline, cross organisation, international perspective to give us a helicopter view of education, recruitment and the economic perspectives?

Finally, it will be the customers, the parents and students who will drive change, not governments or economists. It is already happening and whether its’ Passion-Based-Learning’ or something else it is happening now.

To see the full article click on this link .






Debate on the education revolution

Debate on the education revolution

The Education Revolution – The Economist

This is a very interesting discussion sponsored by The Economist and Arizona State University.

If you are interested in the subject of how education needs to change and what effect technology will, and is having, click on this link to see the whole recorded debate. The Economist. Listen out for my questions!

I participated, blogged and tweeted about it afterwards and participants, of which there were, one hundred odd were a bit disappointed with the content.

As is often the case there was a lot of narrow, entrenched opinion and product plugging.

It was a shame because it was a potentially big debate that could have attracted a lot of attention.


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