Education in England – various things coming together   2 comments

Over the last few days there has been an overload of information to read about education in England – and in relation to the rest of the world.

All this reading takes time – and if you are dyslexic like me, a considerable amount of effort to try and get the key facts in your head so that you can access them, and relate them to each other.

So I have decided to do some of that skim reading that I do quite well and try to pull out the main points and come up with a blog (this blog) that covers the main points together with my opinion.

No idea if it will work – and as usual – I am just going to write, no draft, no stopping to make notes – just from my head.  (I am sure others will produce documents based on more detailed reading, notes and referencing)

Let’s start with the CentreForum report in to Education in England. This is their first annual report about education in England and is rather long at 81 pages. Far too long it has to be said for me to read and absorb, but if you would like to read the whole report you can do so HERE.

For those of you who prefer something shorter than this news article from the BBC might be helpful. CLICK HERE TO READ

The first bit of the CentreForum  report is all about the different accountability and test results – to be honest this goes over my head – and I have to ask why do they keep tinkering with these things? It makes it very confusing for everyone, and makes it difficult to compare exams or tests taken at different times.

And why do people think that children need to know all the things they are tested on? Does it give them any more life skills, or common sense, or adaptability, or creativity? I would suggest not. Many of my generation do not have the academic qualifications that young people are expected to have today – and yet my generation have plenty of common sense, adaptability, ability to think on their feet,  and creativity. The argument about what skills  makes you employable continues, and I think this debate will run and run but to throw my two pennyworth in – I am sure that academic qualifications alone do not provide the skills needed.

There are lots of graphs and facts within the report – which are more or less useless to me – as I cannot read this information on the screen, and the colours used are not the best for me (although that is a personal issue and not a criticism of the report). However to print all 81 pages would cost me a lot, and so it would be beneficial to have a short ‘key points’ version. Maybe there is one?

I note there is reference to the CentreForum’s own benchmark, which from my understanding is ‘higher’ than other benchmarking.

On page 36 we have the conclusion to the section on facts, figures and graphs – and one sentence jumps off the page to me – this one

However, it is only in the Early Years that the country is on course to meet CentreForum’s ambitious benchmark.

Followed by this one

The rate of improvement must be increased at both Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 if the benchmarks at these levels are to be achieved.

On page 37 the section on disadvantage children starts – now this does interest me

Again one sentence jumped off the page

During secondary, the gap is much wider with the result that, in 2015, disadvantaged pupils were just over 19 months, on average, behind their peers by the end of Key Stage 4.

There is of course lots more information, including more graphs facts and figures, and information about pupils who attend school having arrived from other countries but for me,  I have enough information for my purposes – but maybe if you read more, you might like to add comment to this blog to aid further discussion.

The next documents I want to refer to is the Governments  consultation on ‘Cutting the Red Tape’  CLICK TO VIEW and the 30 hour roll out LINK HERE

It is clear the Government do want to try and improve outcomes for children, and are doing some consultation. However, I personally think the Government will not take much notice of the consultation results as has been shown by their response to other recent consultations. They seem to celebrate anything that the sector agrees with them on, but ignore anything the sector disagrees with them on.

Personally I think the Government have NO understanding of how young children learn and develop, of the importance of allowing children to develop at their own rate, through child led play. Yes, of course children need experienced and knowledgeable adults to support them, to keep them safe, to provide enabling environments, and positive relationship BUT experience and knowledge cannot be gained through academic qualifications alone, and good educators (we are all educators in one form or another) have a passion for supporting young children, and a very good understanding of child development (which can not be gained from text books alone).

I now have the piece of paper (well not literally but I have the credits needed) that says I am degree level, but that is not the reason I know my ‘stuff’ about children, it is just one aspect – and to be honest my ethos and practice has not changed since I did my degree, I just know a few more words to describe what I know.

In England (and Scotland and Wales) those in the early years are historically  not  well paid, not professionally valued, and not listened too. We were told that this was because as a sector very few of us had higher level qualifications, or entry qualifications – but this is no longer true – but still our historic position has not really changed.

Early years teachers are better paid, but are not listened too or professionally valued – that is why so many are leaving the profession, and those who remain early years teachers are shouting (very loudly now) that the Government plans for early years are not just wrong, they are damaging our youngest children and limiting their opportunities.

In Scotland there is a new organisation called ‘UPSTART’ calling for a Kindergarten stage for 3 – 7 year olds  More Info HERE , and in England there is a campaign and petition calling for the Early Years Foundation Stage to be extended from 5 to 7 CLICK FOR LINK

It is time those who understand early years children are listened too, and Government stopped messing with children’s future and well being (there is more than enough evidence).

Why do I think this? The evidence is in the CentreForum report – remember that quote

However, it is only in the Early Years that the country is on course to meet CentreForum’s ambitious benchmark.

So why don’t the Government leave the early years sector to do what they do best, before it is too late?

Pushing for more formal / academic learning in the early years is not the way to go – it is all Too Much, Too Soon.


What the Government need to consider is why pupils do not make progress in Primary school, and why the disadvantage gaps gets bigger in Secondary school – despite years of Government trying to ‘improve’ things.

Maybe the Government could learn something from the early years sector about how children learn, about children’s well being and mental health in particular.

Maybe the Government should stop trying to make all pupils tick the same boxes, at the same time – and allow them to flourish and achieve their OWN potential.


2 responses to “Education in England – various things coming together

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  1. I feel so very, very sorry for children growing up in the UK Penny. It’s amazing how they ever “come good” after going through our education system

    C. Andrea Turner
  2. Brilliantly put Penny.


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