CFBT EDUCATION TRUST RESEARCH ON LANGUAGES IN SCHOOLS
More take-up of languages in schools since the Ebacc introduced
Language teaching a reality in high proportion of Primary schools
But wide spectrum of practice and inconsistency and discontinuity between Primary and Secondary schools
CfBT Education Trust, on 20 March, published the results of national surveys of primary and secondary schools, revealing the multiple challenges for languages within the new English National Curriculum.
The ‘Language Trends’ report shows that while foreign language teaching is already a reality in most primary schools, there is a very wide spectrum of practice and a lack of consistency in both approach and outcomes. Teachers need further training and support as the subject becomes statutory in September 2014, particularly in those schools where provision is currently least developed. However, on a positive note, schools in England have been encouraging more teenagers to take up languages since the introduction of the English Baccalaureate league table measure, the report suggests.
The report reveals a disconnect between the primary and secondary systems which means that the vast majority of pupils do not experience continuity and progression as they move from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3. Secondary schools cannot cope with the diversity of pupils’ language learning experiences in Key Stage 2, and it is not on their agendas to do so.
Teachers of languages in both independent and state schools would welcome reforms to GCSE and A level examinations which would encourage steady progression in the acquisition of language skills and improve pupil motivation. They would like to see wider recognition of the value of language learning as an essential tool for success in the modern workplace. On the evidence here, teachers would welcome a return to externally assessed final exams at both GCSE and A level. They would like to see changes which measure and encourage steady progression in the development of linguistic skills and their practical use in a range of contexts.
At 50% of state-funded secondaries, at least half of older pupils are now taking a foreign language GCSE. In 2010, this was the case in 38% of schools. However , it might be the case that anti-European sentiment may be turning teenagers off modern foreign languages.
There is some evidence an “erroneous” view that languages such as French and German are no longer useful when, in fact, they are still needed in the workplace, according to the language specialist Teresa Tinsley, who co-authored the report.
Tinsley acknowledged that current “anti-European discourse” is not helping the issue, She said that entries for A-level French and German fell by more than half between 1996 and 2012. There has also been a decline in students taking these subjects at GCSE. “Entries for GCSE in Spanish and other foreign languages continue to rise, but not in sufficient number to compensate for the decline in French and German.” Tinsley added that the falls in French may be more obvious because it is a widely studied language. “It is possible that because French is the most commonly taken language, when you get a drop-off it affects these languages in the frontline more.” Tinsley said she understood the popularity of Spanish. “I think there’s a perception that French and German are not useful in the global economy, which is a totally erroneous perception. “All the information shows that the languages that are most needed in the workplace are French and German and I think there is an erroneous perception that because Spanish is a global language, it is therefore going to be more useful – but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the structure of our economy and the trading links that we have. “I think that the rhetoric and the discourse around Europe and the anti-European discourse is not helpful for languages.”
The report’s co-author, Kathryn Board, added: “I would say, from a perception point of view, that when you look at society in general in this country and you see that pupils are not motivated to learn languages, parents are not motivating their children to learn languages and generally, we’ve got a society that doesn’t recognise the value of languages, when you get a rhetoric in the media on a daily basis that feels anti-European, anti-eurozone, one might assume, over time, that it underlines an already unfavourable feeling about languages.”
Tony McAleavy, Director of Education at CfBT, said:
“A recent international study showed that English pupils were significantly behind their international peers in terms of foreign language learning. If we are to turn this situation around, we must capture the opportunity provided by the introduction of foreign languages into the primary curriculum, linked to the aspiration for improved standards in the reformed GCSE and A levels’.”
The report concluded that ‘This survey provides the first nationwide evidence on the situation of languages in primary schools since 2008 and shows that, despite anecdotal reports of a reduction in provision during the period of this government’s national curriculum review, language teaching is now a reality in a very high proportion of primary schools. Although 97% of respondents reported that they are teaching a language, this may be an overestimation of the national picture, in that primary schools not teaching a language may have been less inclined to reply. Nonetheless, the survey achieved a high volume of responses and clearly shows that languages are firmly on the agenda in primary schools. However, the report provides evidence of a very wide spectrum of practice and a lack of consistency between schools both in their approach to language teaching and in the outcomes they achieve. There is a strongly expressed need – as well as evidence of an implicit need – for further training and support, particularly for those schools without expertise or commitment to the notion of language teaching in primary schools’.
The report states ‘Following the introduction of the EBacc ,as a performance measure, an increasing number of schools report that the number of students taking languages at KS4 has risen. Among the changes made, many schools have made languages compulsory or highly recommended for some pupils. The figures suggest that most able pupils are now engaging – willingly or not – in language learning. However, there is a dearth of provision for less ‘academic’ pupils and no incentive for schools to provide this.’
Only 11% of state secondary schools have arrangements which allow all pupils to continue with the same language learnt in primary school. Secondary schools cannot cope with the diversity of pupils’ language learning experiences in KS2, and it is not on their agendas to do so. A perception of excessive disparity and diversity in language provision in primary schools – and, indeed, the reality in many cases – is leading secondary schools to dismiss the value of what has been learnt and to ‘start at the beginning again’.
Language learning in primary and secondary schools in England-Findings from the 2012 Language Trends survey – Teresa Tinley and Kathryn Board-CFBT Education Trust-March 2013
GREEN DOT SCHOOLS
Twigg warms to Charter chain in USA because of its collaborative approach
The Green Dot Charter schools network operates 18 schools in some of the toughest areas of Los Angeles. Green Dot operates a mix of independent charter and turnaround schools, serving more than 10,000 students in Los Angeles County’s highest need areas. Its student body is statistically identical to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s, mirroring the amount of students that are English language learners, who receive free or reduced lunches, and are students with special needs.
The network has caught the eye of Stephen Twigg MP, the shadow education secretary, (speech to ACSL-16 March). It is unusual for a Labour spokesmen to highlight the performance of charter schools in the USA, as they are private operators, both for profit and not for profit, running municipal schools under a contract (or charter). That said , some Democrats in the States , including the President, much admire charters for the leg up they can give to the most disadvantaged pupils, in the poorest areas. What resonates with Twigg is the fact that Green Dot’s teachers and management worked closely with the California Teachers Association (ie a Union) to develop a contract for its teaching staff that is at one with the mission of Green Dot and also supports a sympathetic professional environment for teachers. This is all about collaboration, a theme Twigg explored in his ACSL speech . He contends that only through collaboration ,within and between schools, can schools and the system improve. He criticises the current government for creating what he sees as an ’atomised ‘system, although, arguably, he helped lay the foundations of this system , when he was in the last government. Green Dot also worked with Randi Weingarten, now president of AFT, and the United Federation of Teachers to create the employment contract for Green Dot New York Charter School. So here is evidence of collaboration in this case not just between schools, but between teachers, students and parents, including on curriculum innovation. And, unlike some Charter schools, unions are recognised. Research conducted by UCLA showed students significantly increased their test scores and took more challenging subjects. Green Dot Public Schools averaged a 20-point increase on the Academic Performance Index scores released by the California Department of Education, with two of its schools exceeding the state’s API goal of 800 for the first time. The performance marked the fourth straight year of gains across Green Dot’s 18 schools.
In 1996, just 19 states had charter legislation in place, and there were only about 250 charters serving some 20,000 pupils. In 2013- 41 states and the District of Columbia had charter laws on the books, and there are more than 2 million students enrolled in 5,600 charter schools.
Private schools forced to admit 10% of pupils free in challenge to their independence
Private schools in Karachi, in Sindh province, Pakistan, are set to challenge, in court, the new free education Bill, which binds them to reserve 10 percent admissions for disadvantaged and ‘ terrorism-affected’ children between five and 16 years. Schools will not be allowed to charge fees to these pupils nor subject the child or parents to ‘any screening procedure except academic merit’. Any transgressor will be heavily fined according to the Bills provisions. How this will operate in practice remains to be seen.
The decision to go to court was taken in a recent meeting convened at the regional office of the Beaconhouse School System and attended by representatives of about a dozen private school chains. During the hour-long roundtable conference, one of the key issues raised in the meeting according to local media reports was the “unfairness of the government’s decision to shove the burden of their negligence on private schools” via the ‘Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2013’. “Giving free education to citizens is the duty of the state,” said a representative of a school, who chose to remain anonymous.
Those attending the meeting said that the government, on the one hand, gives no relaxation to the private sector in terms of taxes and refuses them ‘ amenity plots,’ but on the other hand, expects them to take on additional responsibilities. They, understandably, claim that this is unfair.
They also expressed concern over “political admissions”. A representative asked how they could be sure that the decision of admissions of terrorism-affected children was not actually forced on them by political parties. The scope enabling politicians to abuse this arrangement does, on the face of it, look limitless. Politicians could potentially dispense patronage by awarding their friends and relatives ’free’ education, on a spurious pretext.
They said they were prepared to adopt government schools and do their part for the society, but objected strongly to direct intervention by the government which threatens their independence. As things stand private schools fill some of the gaps left by the governments failure to provide education.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Karachi Grammar School, Happy Home School, Habib Public School, The International School, Nixor College, Beaconhouse School System, Happy Palace Grammar School, Beacon Light Academy and others.
There are around 16,000 private schools across Sindh that form 40 percent of the education sector. Low cost private schools are popular within disadvantaged communities. These schools, like other private schools, worldwide , cherish their independence and are worried about political interference, particularly, in this instance, against the backdrop of an increasingly volatile political environment.
THE MIDDLE YEARS PROGRAMME OF THE INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE-RESEARCH SHOWS PARENTS PUPILS AND TEACHERS POSITIVE ABOUT ITS BENEFITS
THE MIDDLE YEARS PROGRAMME OF IB
Few schools run the MYP but teachers parents and pupils like it, according to NFER research
The International Baccalaureate (IB), it is often forgotten, operates at three levels: the Primary Years Programme- for students aged between 5 and 11, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) -for those aged between 11 and 16 and the Diploma Programme in the Sixth Form, 16 -18. The last format is the most common in the UK.
Indeed , the Primary and Middle Years levels are rarely taught in the UK . Currently,13 schools in the UK offer the Primary Years Programme , 11 schools offer the Middle Years Programme and 189 schools offer the Diploma Programme .
Wellington College is one of the select few to offer both the Middle Years and Diploma programmes of the IB. Wellingtons Master, Dr Anthony Seldon, admitted, when he introduced the MYP, a few years ago, that it was a risk. He introduced it because of his, ( and some pupils and parents) disillusionment with the GCSE format, and the GCSES perceived failure to enable the delivery of a rounded education. Many have criticised the GCSE format ,with Seldon one of its leading critics. But he did more than criticise. He offered an alternative.
The IB, generally, educates around 5,000 students, most of whom are in state schools. The UK is now the third largest user of the IB worldwide .However ,quite a few schools which offer the IB diploma , also offer, concurrently, A levels as an option. Perversely, recent performance tables on university entry subjects ignored the IB Diploma Programme and Pre-U, two existing alternatives to A levels.
In GCSEs subjects are discrete collections of facts grouped by academic disciplines. However there is a growing feeling among teachers that pupils need to explore the connections between subjects. Interdisciplinary, joined up learning, they believe, really matters. Subjects shouldn’t be taught in silos. With GCSEs there does seem to be an assumption that there is a finite body of knowledge and a right answer (known by the teacher, to be used in the exam).Examiners have strict guidelines to follow which some feel punishes the brightest who do not deliver formulaic answers. But knowledge is an “exploding”, ever expanding concept so the ability to be critical, to think outside artificial boundaries and to be reflective, is essential for life-long learning and individual development. In short, the IB in its various incarnations (not to be confused with the Ebacc) believes in the autonomy of subjects and academic disciplines, but also in their connectivity and for the need for pupils to be global in their outlook. It also encourages the kind of disciplines, including intellectual inquiry and critical thinking, much in demand among employers, and universities, but which are in short supply.
So, are there any downsides?. Possibly. The IB formats are demanding on both teachers and students and require a degree of self-reliance and discipline which in not always evident in pupils. And because they demand more teachers’ time they are more expensive to deliver than other formats. Anthony Seldon has pointed out too that there is a perception that the IB receives unsympathetic offers from some universities, and this is having a direct impact on the number opting to sit the diploma. Recent research by Anna Vignoles and Francis Green ,of the Institute of Education, uncovered a systematic underestimating of top applicants with IB qualifications. But those IB students who are accepted by top universities, they find, tend to perform better than similar A-level students and are more likely to achieve upper-second-class degrees or firsts.
But what of the MYP? One noteworthy aspect of the MYP is that it comes in two basic forms. Either a school, can take the more expensive route seeking the MYP as a full stand-alone qualification: ie with certification (which is what Wellington College has opted for), or schools go the other non-certification route and use it as a way station to the IB Diploma, which is what most schools, using the MYP in the UK, do. However if a pupil leaves school, at 16, for whatever reason, and has been studying the MYP, but not with certification, then they will leave with no qualification to show to future employers, which might be a consideration for some parents.
Dr Seldon will be particularly pleased by the findings of a recent an NFER report on the IB Middle Years programme. The NFER conducted an investigation into the teaching and learning benefits of the IB MYP, in the UK. The aim was to provide a rich qualitative picture of the programme implementation in the UK, including the impact of the MYP on non-scholastic attributes such as international mindedness and civic engagement, classroom learning environments and school culture. The research design included a comparison of IBMYP, GCSE and IGCSE curriculum and assessment documents, online surveys of teachers, students and parents, and four detailed qualitative case studies.
The Key findings:
IBMYP, GCSE and iGCSE curriculums covered broadly similar content, but IBMYP had a greater focus on thinking skills and international mindedness.
Teachers, students and parents were overwhelmingly positive about the programme and its benefits, although did acknowledge some challenges, especially in regard to public recognition in the UK.
MYP in the UK:
Promotes a teaching style and school ethos valued by teachers, parents and students;
Develops students as independent learners, critical thinkers and active citizens, and encourages involvement in local and global communities;
Impacts positively on school culture and classroom environments – promotes feedback and reflection, engaging and motivating for students and teachers;
MYP students demonstrate greater awareness of global issues, greater interest in understanding other cultures and greater self-efficacy and sense of civic responsibility (local and global) than other students in the UK.
Teachers had positive views on the programme, but some teachers held negative views about the MYP qualification. In particular, the lack of recognition in the UK was identified as problematic. Some uncertainty was expressed about how the qualification would be perceived by universities.
Offering the MYP alongside the National Curriculum was identified as the main challenge of delivery and development of the MYP. Some teachers expressed the view that schools cannot deliver both programmes effectively.
The majority of students said they enjoyed participating in the programme and acknowledged the benefits of its focus on critical thinking and reflection whilst accepting the greater workload they perceived, compared with other courses. Students, unlike parents and teachers, expressed less concern that the IB MYP qualification may be less useful than GCSE or IGCSE courses. A number of students felt that too much reflection was required and some felt that the assessment criteria could be clearer.
The survey found ‘IB MYP students reported high levels of awareness on issues such as diversity, social justice, human rights, sustainable development, conflict resolution and interdependence as well as understanding how cultural values and assumptions shape behaviours. Although ‘self-reported’, and therefore to be interpreted with some caution, the awareness levels of IB MYP students were significantly different from, and higher than, those of students in non IB schools; they were also more likely to cite school assemblies, lessons and trips alongside family and friends as major sources of learning about these issues. In terms of their attitudes and beliefs in relation to global issues, the responses of IB MYP students were significantly different; more said they like learning about 110 different cultures and people with different backgrounds than non-IB students. They also demonstrated more strongly positive views in terms of ‘self- efficacy‘ in relation to the global issues mentioned i.e. the extent to which, as individuals, could make a difference or contribute to the global community. In terms of citizenship self-efficacy, the belief in one’s own ability to participate in citizenship issues, identified as a driver of participatory citizenship in adulthood, IB MYP students were more likely than non IB students to report that they thought they could do the following well: argue their point of view about a controversial political or social issue; follow a television debate about a controversial issue; speak in front of the class about a social or political issue or discuss a newspaper article about a conflict between countries. Finally, when asked about actions they might become involved in the next few years, IB MYP students were more likely than non-IB students to report that they would volunteer time to help people in the local community, talk to others about their views on political and social issues and join an organisation for a political or social cause. All of the non-scholastic attributes displayed by IB MYP students and discussed above reflect the IB ethos and demonstrate that the students espouse the values the MYP strives to promote.
Whether or not the IB continues to expand probably depends on whether reforms to GCSEs and A levels offer, to some degree at least ,what the IB is currently offering to parents and pupils. (unlikely as things stand, but there is a way to go) The IB exists because there is a demand for what it offers to students, because it claims not to be subject to grade inflation and because of the perception ,among some stakeholders, that GCSEs, and to some extent, A levels, are not fit for purpose. Will the IB expand significantly into State schools? On cost grounds alone, this seems unlikely, over the medium term. And while this report on the MYP is broadly positive ,the big question is that -if its so good, why have so few schools opted to take up the qualification?
NFER-Report for the International Baccalaureate
International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in the UK-2013
INDIA STILL NOT WELCOMING ON THE EDUCATION FRONT
But then neither are we
At a conference on education exports some three years ago, held at Wellington College, Lord Bilimoria, who made a fortune here, on the back of Cobra beer and has an Indian background, waxed eloquent about how popular UK education is in India. The brand is much admired. So. Private schools and higher education institutions should look at opening up there, in his view. He did concede though, that there were some bureaucratic problems in setting up new education ventures. He wasn’t joking. Three years on nothing much has changed, it would seem. Anthony Seldon in a Times article this week (18 Feb) mentioned the Indian Higher Education Providers Bill. This aims to permit foreign universities to set up, but it has yet to pass through parliament, to the fury, Seldon says , of some in the Indian Government. Presumably they have been pretty furious for some time now- for the last three years, at least. This same Bill was mentioned at that conference three years ago. One begins to wonder whether bureaucracy is simply another word for protectionism. Seldon wrote ‘Bureaucratic obstacles further explain why not a single British public school has set up in India. In contrast, independent schools including Harrow, Dulwich and Wellington have branches in China and across East Asia and the Gulf. Senior government figures in India acknowledge that they badly need expertise from the West if their own universities and schools are to become world class. India should be laying garlands, not obstacles, in the paths of top universities and schools from Britain’. It should be, but it isn’t. Mind you Indian students who might in the past have automatically placed the UK as their first choice for studying abroad, are now shopping around, looking at other options, because many feel that UK immigration and visa rules are unsympathetic to them . They are looking instead to USA, Canada and Australasia for higher education options. There has been a significant drop in Indian applicants to the UK. The Government cant say it wasn’t warned. Vice Chancellors saw to that. But Ministers have been complacent, saying that it cant be too bad as Chinese student numbers are holding up. But the Chinese are an isolated case. Ministers are cottoning on now rather belatedly , as even Chinese students are beginning to voice their concerns. But damage has already been done.
David Cameron is currently telling Indian students that they are hugely welcome, providing that they have an English language qualification and a place. Maybe, but the London Met’ debacle is common currency in India and students are concerned that when they finish their studies they will not have an opportunity to stay to work.
The answer to all this is, self-evidently, to take full-time higher education students out of the Government’s immigration cap, a move currently resisted by the Home Office.The BIS and FCO should be having some productive discussions with the Home Office on this issue. (Of course they have been having discussions, but these have hardly been productive).
For education exporters India is still a less attractive proposition than the Middle East, Far East (Myanmar looks interesting to some though it currently spends less of its GDP on education than any other country according to UNESCO) South America and possibly North Africa (in the wake of the Arab spring)
In the year to the end of September (the latest figures available from the Home Office), work-related visas were down 4% on the year before to 145,604, the lowest recorded figure using comparable data. Similarly, 26% fewer study visas were issued.
NEIL McINTOSH WARNS OF THE THREATS TO ADONIS ACADEMY LEGACY
Quality and genuine independence could ensure the Adonis academy legacy is sustained
But how independent are academies?
In his last speech, on 15 November, before stepping down after 22 years as chief executive of CfBT Education Trust, Neil McIntosh, expressed his concerns over possible threats to the Adonis legacy of Academy schools. Is that legacy secure?Could Academies disappear from the schools landscape?
Lord Adonis, the architect of the original Academies programme, had, in an earlier speech at the event (CFBTs AGM), testified to Neils influence in helping to transform the supply side in education, thanking him for his support,( when Adonis was the schools minister), in driving through the academy reforms, and praised his leadership in broadening the role of the third sector in the delivery of public services.
What Adonis was trying to do, as an adviser to Tony Blair and subsequently as the schools Minister, Neil said ,was “ to accelerate the improvement of schools in England by enlisting the energy and resources of the private and Third sectors, what is often called, civil society, within a public service, not for profit framework.”
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, believes that the best way of protecting the Adonis legacy was ‘to maximise the number of Academies.” True up to point, but insufficient, claimed Neil. He said “Its not so much about quantity as quality. If Academies fail to do much better than their predecessor schools they will be vulnerable to attack. And the more Academies there are, then the more likely there are to be failures. So ensuring quality, protects the legacy.”
The second threat, on the horizon, concerns the independence of academies. Just how independent are they? Neil believes that only genuine independence will ensure their sustainability. He said “independent providers of a public service should be genuinely independent and that the constitutional form that they take should be able to stand the test of time”.
In a key passage in his speech Neil crystallised his worries about the current constraints on Academy independence.
He said “Arguably we are developing a model in the education sector in which a new cadre of charitable organisations (Academies are Charities) are being created in a uniquely top down way, with many of the providers being, in effect, set up by government and being 100% dependent on one source of (government) funding. Moreover they are so-called ‘exempt’ charities, subject to a central government regulatory regime directed by a politician not the Charity Commission. That regime dictates the rules of governance even up to the Secretary of State (SoS) having the right to vet individual governors.”
He continued “Some of these new organisations are growing very fast, perhaps dangerously so given that they are often dependent to a disturbing degree on a key person, and that that one person has automatic right to be a trustee and may have no previous experience of running an independent organisation. And despite the supposed tight control of governance by the Secretary of State there is real cause for concern that the checks and balances between some of those high flying Heads and their governors are not robust enough. At their weakest, these are agencies which are independent in name only. And perhaps not even in that. This was highlighted, ironically, by both the PM and Michael Gove referring on a number of occasions last week to Academies as state schools. Independent state schools was Tony Blair’s preferred oxymoron.”
These developments, Neil believes, represent a threat to the integrity of the concept of charitable organisations but also demonstrate “the tendency in English education to adopt complex and opaque structures which fail to locate responsibility firmly and clearly and will, I believe, prove inadequate in the long term.”
So ,the big danger for Academies is that, especially with the single Academy model (as opposed to the Academy chains), they could so easily be transmuted from their ‘independent’ status back to their old status as maintained schools.(he cited the example of how the careers service companies, often run by charities, were transmuted into Connexions partnerships and look also at what happened to GM schools)
Neil concluded “For my money, then, securing Andrew’s admirable legacy is a matter of encouraging the development of a growing number of highly effective non-government promoters of consistently high performing schools (like CFBT); not re-badging all schools or trying completely to replace entirely the delivery system for supporting maintained schools in England”
Before July 2010, all academies had to register with the Charity Commission. Academies became exempt charities on 1 August 2011. Exempt charity status means that they are not registered or directly regulated by the Charity Commission. DfE is now the ‘principal regulator’ of academies. It is responsible for overseeing their compliance with charity (as well as education) law. The Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA), which originally funded academies, carried out this role on the DfE’s behalf until March 2012 when it was replaced by the Education Funding Agency
TOUGH ON CHARACTER
‘How children Succeed’-its not just about cognitive skills
Character is what leads to lasting success
If you do well in exams and pass the tests you are set to succeed in life. Not necessarily. Until recently, most economists and psychologists believed that the most important factor in a child’s success was his or her IQ. This notion is behind the obsession with test scores. Tests, of course, are important, but there is much in a child’s education and learning that cannot be reliably tested. It is also the case that confidence in the testing regime, certainly in England, is at an all time low.And an individual’s non-cognitive abilities are now assuming much greater importance to employers who need them in the workplace
Education policymakers here and in the States have been driven by the need to promote more rigour and robustness in academic standards. Test-based accountability measures have been enacted with the intention of holding schools accountable for reaching these higher standards, measuring pupils cognitive skills. Its nearly all about content knowledge and testable academic skills. But in How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter most for students have more to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. Economists call these non-cognitive skills. Psychologists call them personality traits. Neuroscientists sometimes use the term ‘ executive functions’. The rest of us often sum them up with the word ‘character’. Tough offers the revolutionary concept that character, unlike DNA, is not fixed or completely innate in a person. It is, in a word that recurs throughout How Children Succeed, malleable.
This is what Tough says’ … the conventional wisdom is that the big problem for low-income kids is that they don’t get enough cognitive stimulation early on. In fact, what seems to have more of an effect is the chaotic environments that many low-income kids grow up in and the often stressful relationships they have with the adults around them. That makes a huge difference in how children’s brains develop, and scientists are now able to trace a direct route from those early negative experiences to later problems in school, health, and behaviour. The problem is that science isn’t yet reflected in the way we run our schools and operate our social safety net. And that’s a big part of why so many low-income kids don’t do well in school. We now know better than ever what kind of help they need to succeed in school. But very few schools are equipped to deliver that help.’
Tough talked about character in a recent interview, citing the KIPP chain of not for profit charter schools and its dedicated founder, David Levin. KIPP schools produce report cards for academic performance but also character assessment. “Dave is doing new and important work,” Tough said, adding: ‘He has a new vision for character and it’s quite scientific in that he’s trying to figure out which character strengths make a difference in a kid’s success. And at the root of his research and thinking is the assertion that character is… a set of qualities that [enables] kids to change themselves and qualities that parents and teachers can instil.’ The schools Tough writes about in “How Children Succeed” that are collaborating on a character initiative are those KIPP charter schools in New York City, which serve a mostly low-income student population, and Riverdale Country School, a private school in the Bronx that serves a mostly high-income student population. Together, they have come up with a list of seven character strengths they are trying to encourage in their students. KIPP had discovered that their most successful students were not necessarily those that came top in tests but those, instead, that were the most resilient .
Tough points out that protective parents, with the best of motives, might well be harming the longer term prospects for their children: ‘By not giving them the chance to learn to manage adversity, to cope with failure, we produce kids who have real problems when they grow up. Overcoming adversity is what produces character. And character, even more than IQ, is what leads to real and lasting success.’
In the words of a recent academic study (see below) ‘… there is still much to be learned about how to leverage non-cognitive factors to transform educational practice from its current focus on content knowledge and testable academic skills to the broader development of adolescents as learners.’
The Consortium on Chicago Schools Research report titled “Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Non-cognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance: A Critical Literature Review.’ June 2012
ACADEMIES AND CHARITABLE STATUS
Charities but not regulated by the Commission-also now subject to Freedom of Information
The Department for Education’s academies programme has so far created over 2,300 new, publicly funded independent schools. The charities that run these schools, Academy Trusts, are not, though, regulated by the Charities Commission. In fact, they are exempt from registration and regulation by the Commission. So the DfE is their principal regulator for the purpose of charity law (and of course they are accountable to DfE through their Funding Agreements).
Charities are generally not covered by the Freedom of Information Act 2002, although Academy Trusts are. Academies, by virtue of the Academies Act 2010, are now all subject to the FOIA ( ie since January 2011) though this was not the case for the initial tranche of Academies. A lack of transparency in the way these Academies operated-for example concealing the fact that their pupils were taking ‘soft’ options to secure for their school respectable league table positions-gave Ministers little option but to impose greater transparency.
Ministers say that Academies are improving at a quicker rate than other non-selective schools in the maintained sector , and those that are part of a chain are improving fastest.
The government is trying a new approach to supporting education exporters. Can it work? Patrick Watson
Published in ‘ Education Investor-’ September 2012
This government, it claims, is committed to export-led growth. Education is our seventh largest export industry, worth over £14 billion in 2008-09, and is growing at a rate of 4% a year but, ministers feel, it could do more.
So, in a tacit acknowledgement that our exporters need more support, UK Trade & Industry is moving to offer a ‘system to system’ approach to help education exporters. Its new UK Education Services unit aims to bring the best expertise in the private, public and voluntary sectors together under one roof, to enable a more joined up approach to education exports. The intention is to sell international customers a distinctive UK offer comprising a number of providers working together. This, the theory goes, will be more attractive to potential customers than a number of competing UK offers that meet only parts of their needs. This is quite a change. Until now, the go to organisation for UK education businesses abroad has been the British Council (BC), but that bodys inadequacies are well-known. Its too thinly spread, lacking the capacity, expertise or, indeed, competence to provide the support commercial education firms require. It also suffers from a conflict of interests. Though tasked with representing our education services, in practice the BC often competes with it, by providing language training and so on itself. Accordingly, it often keeps valuable commercial information to itself. To compound the problem, as its grant funding has decreased, its exhorted its staff to act more commercially. This toxic mix of conflicts of interest, overstretch and quality deficit once amounted to an irritation. Increasingly, though, its turned into a crisis.
UKTIs latest initiative, then, could represent a step change in the way the government supports the UKs education industry. We know whats needed: the UKTI spells it out in an overview of its new approach.
First, the identification of major opportunities, through detailed country market analysis. Second, engagement with UK education providers and supporting agencies to identify those with the capability and interest in exporting to these countries.Third, engagement with the host government contacts to develop opportunities to the point where they can be offered to UK providers. And, finally, facilitation and support to UK providers in bidding for contracts.
So far, UKTI has mainly focused on the needs of Higher Education institutions, but increasingly it accepts the need for a more inclusive approach. After all, the UK exports a wide-range of education services: independent schools and their franchises, school improvement, qualifications and assessment, inspection, teacher training, language teaching… Such specialist services are often poorly understood by our local representatives, and so havent had the support that they might.
The UKTI approach sounds promising, but will need to be backed by political will and resources. Secondments from the private sector would give this initiative some focus and traction. Using education service providers as a sounding board will help, too.
But heres one more idea. The BC receives a lot of grant money specifically to promote UK education, but the consensus is that this has not been used cost-effectively. Why not simply transfer it to UKTI, and use it to fund, say, secondments from the private sector?
Published in Education Investor September 2012 Vol 4 No 7
Education Investor is organising a conference in London on 17 October 2012 ‘Exporting excellence: capitalising on the global value of UK education’, at the Westminster Conference Centre
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) works with UK-based businesses ‘ to ensure their success in international markets, and encourage the best overseas companies to look to the UK as their global partner of choice.’ It is part of the Department for Business Innovations and Skills (BIS). Lord Green is the Trade and Investment Minister .
Unsurprisingly the BC has taken exception to my views on its role and competence, insisting on a right to reply in Education Investor. Its weak reply in letter form amounts to flannel and flummery so typical of that organisation , signally failing to address the core issues raised. It suggests that I am articulating my clients views, the implication being that these views do not represent the broader education sector. Wrong. There is a broad consensus among UK based education providers, most of whom are not my clients (if only!) about the inability of the BC to represent their interests, for the reasons given above. Many have to work in partnership with the BC or suffer commercially without fully understanding the reasons why. The BC behaves like the worst kind of monopoly, and in consequence damages UK education interests abroad in a sector where we should have some competitive advantage. It really is that simple. The real shame is that our politicians and civil servants allow the BC to get away with it. But for how much longer?
- PAYING FOR RESULTS-CAN IT HELP RAISE PERFORMANCE- OR DOES IT CORRUPT THE LOVE OF LEARNING?
- PROSPECTS JOINS MUTUAL JOINT VENTURE TO DELIVER PUBLIC SERVICES-GOVERNMENT KEEN ON EMPLOYEE OWNED MUTUALS DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES
- PROFESSOR TONY WATTS RESIGNS FROM THE NATIONAL CAREERS COUNCIL
- EDISON LEARNING AND THE NAHT UNION LAUNCH A SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE WITH DFE BACKING
- THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF ACADEMIES-WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE CONCERNS?
- PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE REPORT ON ACADEMIES-SOME CONCERNS OVER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- CAIRNS OF BRIGHTON COLLEGE BACKS ACADEMIES
- IS CAREERS ADVICE IN SCHOOLS EFFECTIVE OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO SAY?
- LEMOVS TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION -TOP TECHNIQUES USED BY THE BEST TEACHERS
- THE PUPIL PREMIUM AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS
- EDUCATION EXPORTS-NEW GOVERNMENT STRATEGY IN THE WINGS?
- INSPECTING ACADEMY CHAINS-ON THE AGENDA
- Careers advice and Guidance
- Charity Status
- Charter School
- Coalition Education Policy
- Conservative policy
- Discipline and Truancy
- early years learning
- education market
- education quangos
- education reform
- Free schools
- higher education
- Home Education
- independent schools
- primary schools
- Public Services Reform
- published letters
- Pupil Support
- quality assurance
- quality assurance and inspection
- school governance
- secondary schools
- Secure Estate
- SPECIAL NEEDS
- teachers and teaching
- Think tanks
- us education system
- Youth policy