EBAC, Curriculum, the Government & Other Such Stuff
11/11/12 13:22 Filed in: Education
Please tell me that I'm not unique!
Surely we are paid to be professionals. Why not act as a professional and continually gate-keep, assess, and only implement practices and systems which are right for your children. Yes, we are accountable, and yes there are laws, and I am by no means saying that we should not carry out the requirements of our government, who after all do keep us all in employment. No, I'm simply saying that there is enormous flexibility in how we follow guidance. In any case, chances are that you are either an Academy already, or are thinking of becoming an Academy. A cornerstone of Academy conversion of course being freedom to do what is right in your context in your school... that is if you ever found constraints before you became an Academy.
So let's take a step back. Yes, I fully support the Curriculum aims of the recent Heads Round Table initiative, long may it build momentum and grow to have a real and profound effect upon the education landscape. However, if (and it's a big IF, if we all speak coherently and work together) the proposed EBAC becomes real, and you are leading your Curriculum, you aren't actually going to implement a Curriculum that marginalises the Arts and Technology and others, are you? I wouldn't. I've been in education for 25 years, 15 years in senior leadership, and have yet to find a community of learners that will be best served by a Curriculum which is dramatically skewed and narrow, such as the EBAC.
You will implement a broad and balanced Curriculum won't you, which stretches and nourishes all parts of your charges. Yes, you will have to be aware that the Government or OFSTED will be measuring a small part of what you provide. But, if it's all equally good, that won't actually make any difference to you will it, or most importantly your students. As long as you can say that you have done the right thing for your students, you will be able to sleep at night. The only injustice will be to yourselves as school leaders as you yoyo up and down increasingly irrelevant league tables.
OFSTED are a bit of a red herring really, what they actually want to see is quality education and learning. When an OFSTED inspector asked me what we were doing about the (old?)EBAC, I essentially told him that we were ignoring it. I then went on to explain how we catered for every child, at every level, with 230 individualised pathways to success, both academic, applied and every other combined need, etc. which seemed to do the trick since he graded our school and Curriculum Outstanding, saying that he would like to use some of my ideas in his school. Could my students follow the EBAC combination of subject (note, not exam or certificate, because it never was one), of course they could, but did I mention, guide, cajole or secretly influence, never. There will of course be as many ways to do what is right for your children as there are schools but please, be strong.
I don't normally stray into politics, but, I didn't like the Labour approach to education, and I am frustrated by the Conservative one. So the only conclusion I can draw, in the absence of any other opposition, is that politics has no place in Education. Let's continue what has been started and get Education led by Educationalists. It doesn't really seem that radical does it when you write it down.
So, I implore you, by all means let's try to influence Government policy, but if we don't, carry on the good work anyway, do the right thing and don't waver under perverse pressures from anyone who tells you otherwise. Above all, be bold, be true and do what’s right, never chasing grade boundaries or league table tricks.