Let’s start EDUCATING our children

So now we know it. For the last 20+ years we haven’t been so much educating our kids as getting them to pass exams. They used to be the same thing – now they are not.

Everyone seems to be at it.

• Parents cheat by ‘helping’ kids with course work
• Schools cheat by teaching only to a strict syllabus
• Exam Boards cheat by selling information about exams to teachers prepared to pay to go to seminars.

Well let me apologise because some people don’t cheat. Children don’t cheat – they are just abused by the system. Lot’s of schools and teachers don’t cheat but they probably lose out as much as the kids do as other schools are seen to do better than them.

So now although it appears that results are getting better. Although we know children are working harder their level of education is being reduced because thy knowledge and imagination is being confined within ever narrower boundaries. We get people with A Level maths who have to go on maths courses before starting as an undergraduate. We have English students who cn onl spk in txt lng!

So what should we do about this? Scrap three things

School League Tables

This where it all started to go wrong. For more than 20 years now we have been churning out meaningless league tables which have failed to recognise the very difficult circumstances in which many children are brought up. There is little recognition of the fact that kids in nice areas who can go to nice schools with supportive mums and dads are likely to get further than children with the opposite experience.

Gullible parents have looked at the crude figures and have bought into it – often literally by buying a house in a catchments area of a perceived good school.

This has take away much of the initiative of teachers and has allowed far too many schools and teachers to coast. The didn’t need to be good teachers in some schools because they had the right ingredients for success

The National Curriculum

This Stalinist approach to education needs to be abolished. Every child matters because every child is different. Teachers used to be able to recognise this to a much higher level that they do now. Lessons would be crafted around the potential of the day. If it was snowing they might discuss the structure of snow in a science lesson and poetry about snow in English. Not now! The broiler house of education makes people try to achieve the same constants for lessons and therefore pupils across the system


Lastly we need to abolish this pretentious, useless organisation. About 4 years ago I did an inspection alongside an OFSTED team. What an incompetent shower they were. No wonder they were no longer teachers – they wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes in front of a class. Instead they behaved little Hitler’s inside the authority they were supposed to be helping.

All this cheating has passed by the over paid inspectors of OFSTED who have been happy with an extremely tick box approach to their work

What would I put in the place of all this? Teachers who have been enabled and encouraged to work with their children to provide a good high quality and ROUNDED education, which could be assessed by real examinations.

The end result of the education process should be people who want to learn, who know how to learn and have learnt. They are rounded individuals who have been given skills for life. Too often we produce narrow minded weak intellects who have travelled down unimaginative railway lines of learning and add little to our society

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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2 Responses to Let’s start EDUCATING our children

  1. Gareth Hartwell says:

    As a former teacher and a parent of a primary school child who is keen to learn, I agree entirely with your central point that we need to get back to education which is completely different to learning to pass exams.

    However, I dont agree that the National Curriculum is to blame. The NC can be applied very flexibly and simply provides an overall framework for learning – there is no reason at all that a teacher cant react to events on the day such as snow or topical events on the day and reframe their lessons accordingly. Unlike the French system, this is perfectly possible under the NC (although it is true that some schools choose to impose their own additional constraints on teachers).

  2. John Brace says:

    A very good blog post. Sadly the education you get from teachers teaching to the syllabus is too narrow as there are many things (especially in science) that need to be at least grasped to understand the syllabus. Yet when I pointed this out about 15 years ago the answer was that teachers didn’t have the time to teach to anything more than the syllabus and if pupils wanted to know more they’d have to do it in their own time.

    It’s not just exam boards selling courses to teachers. If you want a copy of the syllabus they charge for it (which gives an advantage to those pupils who can afford a copy of the syllabus!)

    As to university, I do remember an admission tutor insisting that X is a requirement for a certain course. I quoted the admission policy of the university which stated I was in a category of student that had to be interviewed before being turned down. The admission tutor basically stated it wasn’t necessary to interview me as she didn’t think I was suitable for the course. I complained to the student union president, who politely listened to me but responded by saying the university often breached its own admission policies, as many admission tutors were stuck in how the system was in the past before things were changed. Certain departments were better than others, this was one still stuck in the past (ironically the Department of History) and I was advised it wasn’t worth my time persuing it further.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to advocate abolishing OFSTED, as there are some terrible institutions that need to be shamed by special measures or a terrible inspection report into changing. The problem is OFSTED reports are so brief and infrequent that it is easy for schools to pull the wool over inspector’s eyes. After all it’s only for a week every so many years.

    OFSTED does need to change as it isn’t as effective as it could be with a bit more imagination. Strangely although the whole school is told that OFTSED inspectors are there for the week, at least when I was at school the pupils didn’t get a chance to talk to them (even if the inspectors wanted to speak to a specific pupil they were not permitted by the school). Hence the report was massively biased to teacher’s viewpoint of their workplace.

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