This guest blog is from Teach First teacher Usman Mohammed who spent last week on a summer placement at the RSA
The outpourings of #Govegone sentiments from swathes of the nation’s teachers seem to have woven a rather comfortable “better her than Gove” safety net for Nicky Morgan. This much needed support should help with her primary aims ahead of the elections: to pacify the righteous medieval styled anger of the education mob and to convince them that new policies and pronouncements designed in appreciation of teachers lay just over the horizon.
She has a particular job on her hands, especially in relation to the hard-core sceptics and teachers at more challenging schools. Having completed my first year as a Teach First participant and experienced one of these challenging Inner-London schools, I feel I have seen a good example of what that scorched earth scepticism looks like.
Improving struggling schools (many of which are now located outside of major cities) essentially boils down to sourcing and relocating the best teachers to the most challenging environments. But, as educational “Twitter-garch” Sam Freedman succinctly addresses in his analysis of the hardest problems educational policy has to address, this is an extremely difficult hurdle to jump using only the tools currently within the government’s remit.
Here at the RSA, as part of work we are doing around the teacher licensing scheme and giving teachers a ‘license to create’, we are currently considering both the possibilities and pitfalls of creating a sabbatical offer for teachers in challenging schools. Whilst not an obvious vote-winner, the idea of a sabbatical might just offer a promising tributary for improving teaching and learning across the nation. Read more
It’s a rainy May Wednesday in Birmingham and two 16-year-old pupils, Kobir and Tabassum, are giving me a tour of our new RSA Academy, Holyhead School in Handsworth. With a mixture of pride and humour, they show me round buildings that are far from pristine, but ooze learning and purpose. Inventive with their questions and responses, these young people appear to have the C-factor: the power to create the lives they want for themselves and the courtesy to consider others along this journey.
Despite its enduring presence in staffrooms and classrooms, articles and RSA talks, creativity in education is in danger of becoming a toxic brand. In England, fifteen years since the publication of the seminal All Our Futures report, emerging curriculum and accountability regimes give no incentive to focus on the creative development of young people. The rhetoric driving changes in school behaviour reinforces the message that creativity is a ‘nice to have’ to be developed only after the culmination of – and never at the expense of – knowledge acquisition. As Michael Gove claimed recently, “creativity depends on mastering certain skills and acquiring a body of knowledge before being able to give expression to what’s in you…[for instance in music] you need first of all to learn your scales”.
A recent twitter spat about which of the new set of DFE Ministers are privately educated has got me thinking about whether and how far it matters where the DFE Ministers went to school. My conclusion: state or private is the wrong question.
I’m tempted to leave it there – it’s a hot day and there are other things I should be doing – but let me explain…. Read more
This is a guest blog from Chris Smith, Maths, Science and Technology Lead Practitioner, STEM and IBCC Coordinator at RSA Academy in Tipton. Chris explains how RSA Academy in Tipton have played a key role in the success of this inter-school competition.
Back in January 2013 a number of RSA Fellows met at Weston Beamor in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter to look at how 3D printing is being used by Weston Beamor in the production of their jewellery products. They wanted to find a vehicle to promote this new technology and extend its use in schools, after numerous meetings it was decided that RSA Academy in Tipton would coordinate a jewellery design competition for the RSA Family of Academies and those looking to become part of the RSA Family.
Whitley Academy, Arrow Vale RSA Academy, RSA Academy and Broadway School were invited to the launch on 21 January 2014 at the RSA Academy. The brief was to design a lapel pin/badge suitable for the Principals of the RSA Academies to wear – therefore it had to be suitable for both men and women to wear.
Filed under: Design and Society, Education Matters
“His enthusiasm is infectious and his motivation is undeniable. He has worked extremely hard to solve his chosen design problem and has produced a plausible design and concept. He has worked well with his partner and shown a range of communication skills. Ilyas has developed a confident ability to present and hook the audience or potential buyer with conviction. Above all I genuinely believe he has thoroughly enjoyed participating and being given an opportunity and chance to shine.”
If you’re a close follower of the RSA twitter account, you will have seen #PowertoCreate splashed all over your news feed this week, thanks to Matthew Taylor’s annual lecture and an ARC Directors Lunch time event.
They have been introducing us to the RSA’s new worldview: “The RSA believes that all should have the freedom and power to turn their ideas into reality”, and if the above quote isn’t an example of the Power to Create in action, I don’t know what is.
These words were written by D&T teacher, Miss Vesey, about Ilyas Mohammed, a year 10 student at Holyhead School in Birmingham, and the first ever winner of the RSA Pupil Design Awards’ Progress Prize.
Inspired by 90 hugely successful years of the RSA Student Design Awards, the programme’s baby sister, the Pupil Design Awards, has just celebrated its first birthday. The pilot project, which we ran across 3 of our RSA Academies, came to an end earlier this week with 20 finalists joining us at 8 John Adam Street for a day of presentations to our esteemed judging panel, a University tour and, most importantly, the handing out of the awards. Read more
This is a guest blog from Mark Healy, Vice Principal, Arrow Vale RSA Academy, Redditch.
Mark devised the RSA TeachMeet. This is what happened at the first one.
It was fantastic to see so many highly skilled and dedicated teachers from the RSA Family of Academies at the first RSA TeachMeet event held at Arrow Vale RSA Academy in Redditch.
A TeachMeet is a group of teachers and educators that have got together to share ideas. These are ideas that they have used in the classroom and that they want to share with a wider audience. With colleagues from Whitley Academy in Coventry and RSA Academy in Tipton negotiating motorways and traffic jams to join Arrow Vale and Ipsley Academies in Redditch, the evening was hosted by Head boy, Tom Bagley, and Head girl Carley Whittaker.
Teachers were first treated to a ‘Being a student in 2014’ presentation by three students in Year 9 (Hollie Willow, Chloe Wiley and Jake Muckle), and were told in no uncertain terms what switches them off learning, but more importantly, what inspires them to learn. The students also highlighted some of the difficulties faced by young people in 2014, particularly around social media and the internet. Read more
Booom, booom, booom, bom, bom, bom
Hats off and thrown wildly up in the air to all the students, their parents and teachers from RSA Family of Academies who raised the roof at the RSA yesterday with the infectious sound of pounding drums to conclude the RSA Academies Arts Day.
The loud, booming, warm, rhythmic sounds of these drums resonated throughout the RSA. I wish you had been there to marvel at the confidence of these students and their parents who wholeheartedly (and with an understandable amount of jitter) embraced the ‘get involved’ element of the day and breathed in the energy. They were an absolute credit to themselves and their schools. I even surprised myself during the drama workshop, getting in a sweat chasing parents around the Great Room to catch their ‘tails’ wasn’t exactly in the brief. But it was all gloriously creative, and in this creativity emerged discipline, listening, mindfulness, consideration, friendship, bravery, confidence, leadership and imagination. What a heady mix. Read more
While thousands of teachers strike this week, the three main parties’ Education ministers will be joined by their European counterparts to speak at the Education Reform Summit in London. The summit, running today and tomorrow in the spirit of ‘ambition’ and ‘inspiration’, will ‘celebrate England’s success in leading the world in education reform’. Members of NUT protesting around the country – and others – may well question the premise that this celebration is based on. It’s hard to argue, for instance, that England is leading in education reform where others follow; some of our structural reforms have trailed Sweden’s, a worrying omen given their recent fall from grace. It’s harder still to argue that England is a leading global player in standards, when in 2013, the country did not make the top 20 in the PISA tables for Reading, Maths, or Science.
So what can we expect at the Summit? With the election less than a year away, and the Westminster machine in full action, we can look forward to a showcase of manifesto policies from Gove, Laws and Hunt. The exclusively positive rhetoric of the Summit blurb suggests we might be in store for a fair amount of back-patting, and a sponsor-fuelled optimistic vision of the role of technology in education. We can also be fairly sure, judging by the last 5 years, of frenetic announcements and recommendations; teachers hoping for a brief respite to allow schools to catch up with policy, as recommended by the RSA, look away now.
In short, it depends – but if you’re a woman in the UK, the odds aren’t in your favour.
Earlier today, Ed Miliband unveiled plans to beef up vocational education by introducing new technical degrees if Labour wins the election in 2015. His aim is to increase the number of people in higher level apprenticeships by at least 100,000 and raise the profile of vocational education among young people aged 16-19.
Miliband isn’t exactly treading in unchartered waters – apprenticeships are already central to skills strategies across the UK’s cities. Employers have steadily warmed to the idea of taking on apprentices as the evidence demonstrates returns in terms of productivity and long-term value for money. For example, trainees in British Telecom’s apprenticeship scheme were found to be 7.5 percent more productive than non-apprenticeship trainees. The company also reported it made a profit of £1300 per apprentice per year.
However, there is reason to be cautious about the current vogue of apprenticeships being seen as a panacea, given their poor returns for those hoping to progress while in work. Read more
On Saturday I spoke at an After the Coalition conference, organised by Mike Finn FRSA from Liverpool Hope University. It was a terrific first attempt at what will hopefully be an annual event. I’m hoping that our Fellows in the North West can support next year’s conference.
After making my old joke about premature evaluation, and how the educational impact of this government is especially difficult to judge, given the assessment changes at GCSE, I also argued that our understanding of the impact of the coalition on education is dependent on our views of where we stood in 2010. If you think that in 2010 our schools were in the grip of a progressive ideology (caused by a lethal mix of wooly teacher training colleges and excessive central prescription) which had devalued knowledge and teacher authority, leading to decades of falling standards and behaviour, epitomised by our plummet down the PISA league tables, then you’ll probably be thinking that the coalition has worked wonders in four years. If you have a more nuanced, evidence-based view of contemporary education history, then you’ll be more balanced about a coalition government that has actually chosen continuity over disruption on most education issues. Alison Wolf’s presentation was very compelling on the continuity point. Overall, Gove’s bark has been more radical, libertarian and antagonistic than his bite.