Secondary Modern Conservatism: O-No!

Multiple Choice Question:

The Conservatives are planning some major reforms if they win the next election. Only one of the following is a serious proposal, but which is it?

a) Women will have their right to vote removed.
b) The NHS will be completely disbanded, and all healthcare will need to be paid for.
c) Steam trains will be brought back and hundreds of rural stations and lines reopened.
d) Sunday trading will be banned, and all shops will be closed to encourage more people to go to church.
e) O-levels will be reintroduced in schools.

Guessed which one it is yet? To check your answer, click here.

Lacking in artificial intelligence?

Now here’s a surprise – it seems computers are not very good when asked to assess creative work: Great writers fail online test. What’s really amazing though is that someone actually allocated public funding to conduct trials to prove the blindingly obvious. The real problem though is that this sort of press gives computer-related assessment a bad name which will make it harder for systems that do work (such as e-scape) to gain public acceptance.

Now nurses are Going for Gold

Apparently nursing is to become graduate entry. Which I guess means that as well as providing high standards of health care they will also need to be able to write essays about it. According to the Health Minister,  “Degree-level education will provide new nurses with the decision-making skills they need to make high-level judgements in the transformed NHS”. I’m curious to know if there has ever been a study that shows that people with degrees are better decision-makers able to make high-level judgements? As far as I’m aware decision-making is not usually examined as part of most academic degree courses. Anyway, it should all help ensure that non-academic children who may well be excellent carers are excluded from the profession. Still, at least the quality of documentation of why patients have failed to recover should improve as a result of this new initiative?

At last, some good news?

Let’s hear it for… Denmark, and the Headteacher of the Essa Academy in Bolton!

Over in Denmark it seems they are pioneering the live use of the internet in exams, along with a refreshing view on how to deal with ‘cheating’:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8341589.stm

And then to a school in Bolton where all pupils will be using an iPod Touch during their lessons:

www.theboltonnews.co.uk

But the bad news is that 71% of people who voted on the question ‘Do you think the iPod scheme for Essa pupils is a good idea?’ said ‘No’. There’s still a long way to go…

‘What’s your best subject?’

That’s what we always ask children. But it’s the wrong question. One of the most important things that school-leavers need to have is a clear sense of where their particular strengths lie so that they can be as competitive as possible in the employment market and thereby make the maximum contribution to the economy, and/or to society. Now although I’m sure that some children leave with a sense of where they are going, I suspect most only have a vague idea – ‘I was always good at History’, ‘I got an A* in Science’ on their own are of limited value. What they really need to be aware of are things like ‘I have excellent communication skills’, ‘I’m good at team-work’, ‘My strength is in finding things out’, ‘I’m a patient and persistent sort of person’, etc.

In our university-entry, subject-led curriculum  our schools are being diverted from what’s really important.