Little Diss Trust

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Every year thousands of tourists from all over the world visit Britain to soak up its history. Countless heritage visitor experience centres provide a glimpse of what our life was like in the past. The latest addition to these highly profitable venues are of course our schools where the public can immerse themselves in what it was like to receive a English education in the 1950s.

Elizabeth Truss speaks about curriculum reform
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/elizabeth-truss-speaks-about-curriculum-reform

All Change Please! will leave it to others to challenge the reliability of the use of PISA statistics in Ms Truss’ speech, but meanwhile here a few responses to some of the other statements she made:

“Whatever pupils want to do after school, and whether vocational or technical training is right for them, a solid academic core helps them get there.”

So why does the ‘core’ need to be academic? Indeed isn’t it precisely because the core is academic that so many non-academically orientated children fail to grasp the very basics of spelling, grammar and times-tables?

“..our EBacc prioritises the subjects employers value.”

Not according to most businesses who want so-called ‘soft’ skills – creative problem-solving, communication, team work and collaboration.

“Good schools are taking advantage, providing activities like debating, public speaking, negotiation – a school in my constituency is offering business mentoring, for example.”

So why have you removed the speaking and listening component from GCSE? And why isn’t business studies part of the National Curriculum?’

“Pupils who haven’t yet achieved a C at GCSE will keep studying Maths.”

But as they don’t have to do an exam at the end they probably won’t bother to turn up to the weekly lesson.

“By 2020, the vast majority of young people will be studying maths right up to 18 – every one of them achieving the highest standard they possibly can.”

Just because they study something does not mean they will achieve the highest possible standard they can. But of course as you’re not a teacher you couldn’t be expected to understand that.

“The earnings return for a level 3 apprenticeship in engineering or manufacturing is double that of arts, media or business administration apprenticeships.”

But if your interests, abilities and talents lie more in the creative and performing arts or business, you’re unlikely to make very much money following a career – or even get a job – in a STEM subject.  And the arts, media and business also make a very substantial contribution to the UK economy, or at least they did before the EBacc was introduced.

“Our new design and technology courses focus on the practical application of science. It will expose students to the most exciting and transformative technologies – 3D printing, robotics, biomimicry, computer-aided design.”

So why did you remove any specific reference to these exciting and transformative technologies in the final version of the revised curriculum?’

“Coding – one of the essential skills of the 21st century – will now start at age 5. We are aiming to develop one of the most rigorous computing curricula in the world, where pupils will learn to handle detailed, abstract computing processes and over-11s will learn 2 programming languages.”

Coding is the new motor-vehicle maintenance. It’s now mostly done by a computer via someone much cheaper in India. Being able to code, even at a detailed and abstract level, in itself is unlikely get anyone a worthwhile job in the future – a much wider, creative problem identification and solving skill-set that identifies and meets needs and opportunities in a business context is what’s really required, and which unfortunately our children will not be prepared for while at school.

“People say that technology has transformed the world. But it’s actually made writing more important – so much of the new technology requires written communication. I think it’s right schools focus on getting the basics right”

So much so that new technology – in terms of predictive texting and voice recognition and activation – is about to fundamentally challenge the very nature of written communication. Perhaps that’s what we should be debating and working out ways of preparing children to deal with?

We are indeed fortunate, are we not, to be able to rest assured that our Heritage Education Curriculum is safe in the hands of the National Truss.

Image credit: Dullhunk  http://www.flickr.com/photos/dullhunk/380814854

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