Brigley’s round-up of education April 2016
- Academies all round
‘Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry’ — Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’
Well, it is going to be academies all round in England. Why is it that politicians have such little respect for teachers that they rarely ask for their opinion? This is strange because most successful people get where they are thanks to a good teacher whether in a formal or informal setting. Samuel Beckett revealed what he thought in the centre of Lucky’s ‘Aca-cac –academy’ in ‘Waiting for Godot.’ Maybe the Tories like the word so much because it reminds them of classical studies and Plato’s school for the thinking elite. Well, we could probably all benefit from being taught by Plato. However, English academies were first introduced by a Labour government trying to improve performance in inner city areas, but have not caught on in the way that the Tories expected. So now, this could be a real shake-up in English education. Will it mean the dismantling of local government control and what reasons can there be for forcing successful schools to change status?
- Revision season
Revision season is upon us and teachers, almost as much as learners, are under strain. Extra classes, finishing courses, marking test essays are now helping ramp up the pressure on teachers. Here are a few tips which could save sanity.
- Get learners to create their own tests and quiz and self-mark. Making the quiz is revision.
- Chunk practice answers. For example write an introduction in ten minutes. Then go over what it should contain and so forth.
- Encourage mind-mapping and use of other graphic organisers.
- Get learners to teach each other. Give them preparation time and only intervene where more is needed.
- Give groups exam-type answers and get them to prepare a PowerPoint or handout and talk through in class.
- Give cloze procedures which help learners see structures of answers and how to elaborate.
- Give exemplar material and marking schemes for a critical debate.
- Set up the room like a moderation meeting with anonymous work and get class to circulate and comment after reading introductions, developments, conclusions from cut up essays.
- Play games – bingo, Blockbusters, Mastermind
- Rehearse assessing questions, timing, trouble-shooting in examinations.
- Meanwhile in Wales
Pioneer schools continue to prepare to support and network with neighbouring schools. The end is to introduce the principles outlined by Donaldson in his report. The report itself is a road-map of what successful education looks like, with its emphasis on personal growth, life-long learning, balanced curriculum and teacher expertise. The challenge for Welsh Government is to have faith in teachers’ abilities to prepare and deliver this exciting menu. The challenge for teachers is to break the ground and sow the seeds. Yet, teachers are used to being ignored and having decisions foisted upon them. This requires a new mind-set. For the first time teachers have the opportunity to shape education for years to come. It is a great privilege and a great responsibility. Sloan has written that:
‘There has to be pioneers, individuals who have the courage, the ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tries to do something worthwhile, especially when it is new and different.’
I hope those pioneer schools can make a mark and give this profession the attention and the entitlements it deserves.