Top down lock down!

Here is a quote from Ken Robinson speaking at a Royal Society for the promotion of the Arts (RSA) event in 2009

“Getting back to basics includes recognising that great education requires great teaching; it’s not enough to know your discipline, great teachers have to know how to engage people, and great teachers do. And what, really, I think most people find exasperating is when – well intentioned as they are – politicians decide they’re going to take control of a process they don’t know, promote ideas they only half understand and remove the one thing which improves education which is the discretion and creativity of the people actually doing the work.”

(If you don’t know Ken Robinson just put his name into Youtube for a number of interesting talks he has given in recent years).

I was sat in a meeting at the start of the week where we were addressed by one of our local authority Early Years people. She was explaining the latest changes to the way that pupil-profiles are now put together. One such change at a monitoring level was that the inspectors would now be looking at five profiles in great detail; this is up on the old number of three. I asked why this had changed. Her answer was not hugely reassuring: “I just get sent these mail-shots: there is never any explanation of the thinking behind these decisions”.

One new teacher commented that it was a good time to be joining the profession because he did not know the old system so he would not be in the position of having to re-learn anything. Not one teacher in the room chose to put their thoughts into words i.e. the system is constantly being tinkered with and there will be plenty of chances to re-learn and re-learn again as the years go by! Or was it only me that thought this?

Of course this state of constant upheaval is not to be confused with a dynamic system that is in a state of flux due to the practitioners on the ground, Ken Robinson’s “people actually doing the work”, responding to the unique set of challenges in their own setting. This kind of dynamic system would be built from the bottom up and is close to the exact opposite of what we now have.

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