‘The idea that we can encourage social mobility through raising attainment is ultimately a lie…’
Not what you might expect from David Cameron – but this is the REAL (and really Scottish) David Cameron, presenter, trainer, consultant on all areas in education and children’s services. And he doesn’t pull any punches about the notion that what we are doing in the education system, in England particularly, isn’t helping.
So are things in Scotland different? Not in the sense of content – or in the fact that good professionals anywhere are dedicated and share good practice, even in spite of the system – but the Scottish system in terms of structure remains fairly unified, whilst he cites the increasing focus in England on a knowledge-based curriculum, and on standardised testing, which is a concern on both sides of the border.
‘Leadership is often about recognising the quality of those whom you have a responsibility to lead and genuinely leading them by allowing them to exercise their strengths rather than commanding their compliance’
The key issue behind this is one of trust – if we invested more in teachers and trusted their professionalism more we’d have a more reliable and valid assessment system. And trust should lead also to more collaboration and cooperation, with schools working together in whatever ways work for them – MATs, federations, the label and structure is to a great extent irrelevant, as long as there is an unselfish focus on equality of opportunity which leads to pooling resources where need is greatest.
And that extends beyond education. Cameron believes that schools can make a difference – but not all the difference in the social and economic situations in which children find themselves. Educational regeneration needs to run alongside cultural and geographical regeneration so that young people develop confidence in the capacity of themselves AND their communities to achieve. Raising aspirations depends on developing children’s belief that they are able to aspire, and worthy of aspiring.
Something about ‘every child matters’, perhaps?