Over the past few weeks I’ve been laying out radical changes, which may benefit the education system within Scotland. I’ve worked closely with education establishments on a number of projects although I’m no teacher.
In Scotland we took great pride in being able to boast that we hade the best education system in the world. What we didn’t mention was that our reign as best in the world was a long, long time ago. Our education system still worked pretty well until the late sixties when the basic structure of the system was altered in an attempt to create a more level playing field for our children.
It’s patently obvious that this system hasn’t worked and the longer it has been in place the worse things have got. How do we know the education system isn’t working? Because the system is aimed almost entirely at having our young people achieve a degree whilst at the same time the quality of the degrees available have been greatly diluted.
In order to address this, significant and far-reaching change is necessary. This is required so that our young people have a real opportunity to achieve their full potential. This immediately flags up a significant problem; since all of your young people are individuals with differing strengths and weaknesses could we ever develop a flexible enough education system, which would provide the learning, experience and support on an individual basis?
The easy answer is of course NO. Then this is qualified by saying it would be far too expensive, the additional resources required would require substantial budget increases, which are just not affordable. I would argue that we cannot afford not to give every one of our young people the best possible opportunity to be the best they can be. As a country we need this, as a country we have successfully achieved this albeit on a much smaller scale and a long time ago.
The first ten points I’ve identified are as follows –
- EVERY pupil/student should achieve their full potential;
- EVERY student teacher should achieve their full potential;
- There is NO PLACE for politicisation within education;
- There is NO PLACE for religion in any area of education;
- REDUCE the size and influence of local education department to the lowest possible level required to support schools.
- EVERY pupil should be treated as an individual and not be subject to a dress code.
- Successful methodologies and best practice should be adopted in order to provide the BEST learning experience possible for pupils/students.
- The pupil/student RATIO should be around 6:1.
- Teacher advancement would be measured solely on pupil/student ACHIEVEMENT.
- Schools should EXPLOIT the greater school community to provide a rich content learning experience for pupils/students.
Essentially the system would need to be developed on the basis that every learner would receive the encouragement and support they required in a manner tailored to their needs. The learner becomes a partner within the educational system. They have needs and wants which require guidance and support which builds on their strengths and helps them be aware of their weaknesses.
This can’t be done in a class of 40 or a class of 20 for that matter. Whilst various strategies have ben tried and tested to stream learners by age and ability the basic flaws have not been addressed. The flaw of course is that each time leaners are streamed they are placed into one of three sub-groups: the top 5-10%, the middle 80-90% and the bottom 5-10%. Their position within these streaming may alter depending on subject or peer group although it is unlikely that they will dramatically vary their over all group. If they do then it’s likely that a much higher position in a subject stream exposes a potential talent whilst a much lower position in a subject exposes a lack of suitability for that subject.
The central aim is to have every learner achieve his or her full potential within a system, which encourages and delivers the correct environment for this to take place.
This can only be achieved if teachers are also supported and encouraged to achieve their full potential as a teacher. The management structures within schools would then have to alter with teachers being the most important element within each school. This would almost certainly reduce the role of the Head Teacher who would no longer be directing the activities and structural delivery of the teaching. Head Teachers would teach and work directly with all teaching staff to enable “every learner achieve their full potential”.
The structure of teaching career paths would have to alter significantly too. Good teachers would not be promoted out of teaching they would be promoted to increased teaching not just of learners but of student and lesser experienced teachers. In such a system teachers would be able to gain more money and status within the school based solely on their ability as teachers.
Administrators would be there to support teachers to maximise teaching time. Perhaps they would be student teachers learning not just how to teach but also on what is required to allow good quality teaching to take place.
I’ll return to this subject again and again over the next few weeks.