It takes a village…

Watching a DfE teaching recruitment ad through Twitter just now made me think of this phrase… I liked the ad (seen on http://www.campaignlive.co.uk, article dated 1/10/18), it showed education as being a process  and it even included a detention!  It showed the importance of each stage leading to the next, and culminating in the exam process.

I got to thinking about what my teacher recruitment video would show…yes, it is a process but I would want it to show that it really does take a village to raise a child.  Health visitors, nursery staff, teaching assistants, primary and secondary teachers, dinner ladies, counsellors, careers staff, support workers, social care and of course, parents.  Without parental engagement this process flounders – it doesn’t fail as there as many provisions in place to support those young people who for a whole range of reasons don’t have parental support, but it is tougher.  Teaching is a part of this ‘village’, this community designed to educate our next generation.

And to what end?  What is the goal of education?  Wales has embarked on a journey toward a new curriculum which has clearly and succinctly defined the four purposes of education, I am a fan of them! (I am sure others are not, and am sure that there could always be more purposes, but the ones we have going forward resonate with me)  Not one of the purposes is to pass exams – and this is where the system can fail young people.  This video culminates with a timed exam in a hall being the end point, and this is the current end point – that and the clutch of letters (and numbers in England!) on a sheet of paper handed out in August.  All the work from all the members of a young persons community, the ‘village’ don’t just lead to that sheet of paper and that set of grades.  We need to value the other aspects of education, the life skills, the confidence, the talents, the manners, the enthusiasm…all those aspects that aren’t easy to measure and don’t easily fit into a performance monitoring system.  Personally, I’d like to see recognition for these non exam components, a leaving certificate or portfolio of evidence that young people can take with them and that is valued along with those grades.  I am one of the generation who were given the Record of Achievement (aka the Wine List!) to complete during KS3 and 4, an idea that had merit but never really took off as those pesky exam results took priority!

I wonder if for some of the many teachers who are leaving the ranks at the moment citing workload as a main reason, a switch of focus toward the importance of these life skills would help stem the tide.  If the pressure wasn’t on the final grades and the need was less about teaching to the test – or teaching a narrow curriculum in order to meet a specification.  I’m not sure it would, but I am hopeful that in Wales as our new curriculum continues to develop, there will be a way to recognise the contribution that the whole village, the whole community makes to each and every child, and a recognition of the value of those life skills being as valuable as the graded outcomes.

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