Daily Archives: December 5, 2010

Labour to take flak as OECD survey poised to reveal pupils’ failings

UK pupils slipping behind foreign peers as Michael Gove looks to follow Finland and South Korea By Jeevan Vasagar

” The education secretary, Michael Gove, who is thought to have seen the OECD results, told the Commons recently that England was “failing to keep pace” with competitors. He said: “In the last three years of the last government reform went into reverse – schools lost freedoms, the curriculum lost rigour, Labour lost its way. Now, under this coalition government, we are once more travelling in the same direction as the most ambitious and most progressive nations.“Gove has made plain his ambition for schools in England to be more like Finland’s; name-checking the country nine times in his recent education white paper. By contrast, Sweden – which helped inspire the Tories’ free schools policy – is only mentioned once.

The survey, which included 65 countries, revealed that Britain had dropped from seventh to 17th place in reading and eighth to 24th in maths. Britain also slipped to 14th place in science, down from 4th when the last comparable UK results were published, in 2001. Pupils in New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and Estonia were among those who did better than British children at reading.”

Please click here to read the full article

Finland’s schools flourish in freedom and flexibility

State prescribes the curriculum but leaves teachers alone to decide how to teach the subject

By Jeevan Vasagar in Helsinki

“At Meri-Rastila primary school in a suburb of Helsinki, pupils shake the snow off their boots in the corridors, then peel them off and pad into class in socks. After a 45-minute lesson, they’re out in the playground again.

The Finnish education system contrasts sharply with England. Every Finnish child gets a free school meal, and a free education, which extends to university level.

There are no league tables, and no school inspections. There is only one set of national exams, when children are about to leave school, aged 18. The government conducts national assessments, sampling the population to keep track of school performance. But these results are not made public.”

Our View:

What I think I like the most about this article is the response by the Principal at Meri-Rastila regarding testing and how the information is used:

“We have these tests, in the fifth or sixth forms, that are the same tests at each and every school. We get the results and we see where we stand. But that is not common knowledge. And if it’s not good we have to check what are we doing wrong, what we have to improve.”

Instead of the data being used to ‘punish’ the schools for under-performing, the information is used BY the schools to address any issues and make the necessary improvements – what a fantastic idea!

To read the full article by Jeevan Vasagar click here

How to inspire learning at home during the snow..

Scotland combats school closures by offering lessons online By Kirsty Scott

“Optional lessons include children writing stories based on making snowmen…..

Around 250,000 pupils are expected to stay home today in Scotland as many schools face a fifth consecutive day of closures due to the continuing big chill.

But a Scottish education intranet system, now being copied across the world, is allowing teaching staff and pupils to get some work done between the sledging and snowball fights.

The Glow programme, which was the world’s first national intranet for education when it was launched in 2007, has been rolled out to all of Scotland’s 32 local authorities. It is designed to link the country’s schools and provide a forum for pupils, teaching staff and parents in which to share lessons and resources.”

Our View:

It is a fact that nearly every school in the UK has invested time and money in some form of VLE (virtual learning environment) over the last 10 years or so. The truth is that in a majority of schools the importance of the VLE has been sidelined through pressures on staff to deliver results. If nothing else the recent weather situation experienced across the UK has reinforced the need for schools to invest time and energy in harnessing the VLE potential to ensure that student learning is not affected by bad weather in the future.

There have been numerous practical examples based on student learning tasks discussed on Twitter by teachers frustrated by the snow days and their impact on their students. Why not get involved in the work taking place and sign up to follow some of the following lists on Twitter such as @jamesmichie/educationalists-part-1 and @jamesmichie/educationalists-part-2 ?

Read the full article by Kirsty Scott here