I’d love to see what other peoples’ thoughts are on the below…I’m sure we’ve all had that thought ‘if I were…). On this occasion, I’m playing ‘If I were education secretary’!
There’s been a lot of horrible, scarring things over the last year. But the constant Whitehall narrative of ‘catch up’ and ‘return to normal’ is missing a huge opportunity for a radical rethink of education. What about if, instead of spending a few million on printable resources and tutorign, we did something else instead?
- Scrap GCSEs for good.
Moving to a leaver’s age of 18 should have been the moment for this. But we missed it then. Let’s do it now. The age 18 qualifications – A-Levels, T-Levels, IB, apprenticeship etc become the standard expectation instead. If we must keep functional English/Maths (e.g. because aprenticeships require it, perhaps) then it could be either administered by that programme or something that’s genuinely functional – i.e. what employers think the English GCSE is rather than what it actually is. In the future, implement a baccalaurate style qualification. Include some academic, community and vocational/entrepeneurial elements.
- Start the school year in January.
Have September-December 2021 in their current academic years THEN move up. The summer holiday becomes mid-year, meaning students return to the same teacher. We can set summer work/reading/projects, knowing we can follow through . We can set ‘wider experience’ type work or develop summer school (properly funded, of course) for those who need it MID-YEAR instead of waiting until October/November to identify students who are behind.
- Do the same for unis. This year, they operate a ‘bridging term’ until the true start in January, providing the baselines that A-Levels often would. Then from January, they start their usual academic year. Year 13 can, in future, still finish in July with exams (so slightly later) but then universities can make offers based on their actual grades at the end of the course.
- Scrap SATs and Y6 teacher assessment in favour of a more holisitc report style letter from Y6 teachers, shared with students, parents and future teachers to streamline. I’d be willing to bet this would be less work than those three tasks combined. There can always be an additional ‘confidential’ element if absolutely necessary for the new school.
- Hold reception – Year 10 in their current school year groups. Reception in future starts a year later, closer in line with European nations (and where it used to be as it’s crept slowly forward but I believe this is for economic/workforce reasons rather than the good of children). Year 11 and 12 can move on – Year 13 being covered by the bridging term at university / further ed schemes. R-10 can cover gaps of knowledge and further develop skills, as well as working on their social and emotional wellbeing when they’re back in the classroom. 11 and 12 move on with their post-16 programmes. Give nurseries/childcare/parents/grandparents the funding needed to cope with the additional childcare pre-school.
What would your radical rethinks be?