Full marks to George Monbiot for his critique of the English school examination method (England’s punitive test technique is only fantastic at one detail: preserving privilege, 27 April). He asks what would a honest, rounded 21st-century education seem like.
A person reply would be to glance at Finland, where there are no exams prior to university leaving and no league tables. All evaluation is instructor-dependent, geared to guiding further more discovering. Academics get pleasure from substantial qualified autonomy, grounded in their possess schooling to master’s amount. The Finnish program is avowedly egalitarian, with the aim of minimising social inequalities. All pupils get free of charge school meals. And guess what? Finland outperforms the United kingdom not only in terms of wellbeing and everyday living fulfillment of 15-12 months-olds, but also in their performance in the OECD Pisa assessments, primarily based on reading through, arithmetic and science.
The English schooling system is centered on 3 Cs: levels of competition, coercion and cramming. The Finnish procedure rests on three various Cs: collaboration, conversation and conceptualisation. Finnish schooling is not fantastic, and it is not the only route to substantial Pisa efficiency. But the OECD is in no question what a 21st-century education and learning needs: “When instructors really feel a perception of ownership over their lecture rooms, when college students truly feel a perception of possession about their finding out, that is when studying for the … details age can get put.” There is an alternate, if we so choose.
Honorary professor, College of East Anglia
The moment once more, George Monbiot has highlighted a important flaw in Uk modern society and the purpose examinations participate in in preserving privilege. It is, of class, attainable to bypass the method, as my very own practical experience has demonstrated. Getting still left condition faculty at age 17 without having any A-degrees, I then managed to re-enter higher education by gaining office qualifications to attain a BSc and PhD, and became a professor at the College of Nottingham.
The obstacle of regurgitating information and facts in tests in no way assisted me. But owning a more rounded education supplied me with a substantially far more supportive mindset in training learners, ideally helping several to fully achieve their probable, beyond the typical criteria of test grades.
Dr Michael Symonds
Sutton Bonington, Nottinghamshire
There are good reasons other than individuals George Monbiot mentions that describe the government’s motivation for introducing a Gradgrind education and learning technique. Decreasing the curriculum to simply quantifiable features helps make it quick for the authorities to manage education and to be certain educational deviancy is eliminated. Great faculties are people that match up to requirements established by the authorities.
Margaret Thatcher’s distress at the mistaken sort of persons managing our children’s instruction is no more time a issue. Curriculum and educating procedures are identified by ministers. Any college that does not meet up with the imposed criteria will be considered failing and shut. Educational deviancy, or additional properly, impartial contemplating, is eradicated from the technique.
This method also offers loads of “red meat” to be thrown to the media. An arbitrary alter in the guidelines helps make it quick to come across schools that are failing. There is practically nothing extra probably to thrill the rightwing media than a hard minister cracking down on errant colleges.