(A list compiled by Michael Bassey in early September 2013 and citing the 'Challenges to Michael Gove' in #content_42241446 of my #trustteachers set of tweets)
CHALLENGING CHANGES IN THE GOVERNANCE OF SCHOOLS: ACADEMIES
The Anti Academies Alliance is “a campaign composed of unions, parents, pupils, teachers, councillors and MPs. We oppose the government’s Academies programme and believe we need ‘a good school for every child’. The TUC, NASUWT, NUT, ATL, UCU, UNISON, UNITE, GMB, PCS, MU and FBU are affiliated to the Anti Academies Alliance.” http://antiacademies.org.uk/2012/10/academies-defend-your-school/
CHALLENGING CHANGES IN THE PRIMARY SCHOOLS’ CURRICULUM
100 academics letter 20Mar13 to Independent (front page banner headline “Academics Savage Gove’s Conveyor-Belt Curriculum”) and Daily Telegraph (“Gove’s reforms a threat to pupils” front page headline) “Too much too young”. Gove responded in Mail on Sunday “Why I refuse to surrender to militant Marxist teachers hell-bent on destroying our schools” and calling the 100 “The Blob” and “the new enemies of promise”. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/letters-gove-will-bury-pupils-in-facts-and-rules-8540741.html?origin=internalSearch
Association of Teachers and Lecturers: 16Apr13 “The proposed primary national curriculum will hold back the progress of many children and label others as failures by putting unrealistic and age inappropriate expectations on children.” Supported by NASUWT, NUT, Voice: the union for education professionals, Council for Subject Associations, Association for the Study of Primary Education, National Association for Primary Education, National Primary Teacher Education Council, TACTYC: Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators, The Curriculum Foundation, Curriculum for Cohesion, Jewish Teachers Association, Campaign for State Education, Defend School History campaign, The Mathematical Association, Association of Teachers of Mathematics, National Association for the Teaching of English, United Kingdom Literacy Association, National Association of Advisers in English + 83 individuals
National Union of Teachers: 8Jul13 Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary “It should be everyone’s goal to develop a national curriculum that enhances learning and attainment unfortunately this has not been achieved by the new framework. This is a curriculum written by Government advisers and officials, not teachers. The price we risk paying is much greater pupil disaffection from learning as children are faced with content that is not age appropriate and does not take into account individual learning styles. Most parents will not endorse less opportunity for teachers to follow the individual learning style of their child, or their child’s particular interests.”
NASUWT AND NUT Jul13 “Teachers are clear that all children and young people should be entitled to benefit from a broad, balanced, engaging and meaningful curriculum.
Both unions are committed to working with the Coalition Government and with other relevant agencies and organisations to ensure that the National Curriculum is developed through genuine dialogue and consensus, including with the teaching profession. Teachers believe that curriculum developments should be informed by research and evidence and contribute to securing high levels of inclusion, engagement, motivation and achievement by pupils.
However, teachers and school leaders are concerned that the approach to National Curriculum reform being followed by the Coalition Government risks narrowing educational opportunities. This will undermine quality and equity in education but increase pupil disaffection and disengagement.
Concerns are being expressed by many across the education community that the Coalition Government’s proposed curriculum reforms are:-
· not supported by teachers, parents and many other stakeholders;
· unnecessary and could jeopardise educational standards;
· being rushed through with unnecessary haste; and
· inadequately developed and resourced.
The NASUWT and the NUT, together with other highly respected organisations and individuals, are asking the Coalition Government to pause for thought and to delay the implementation of its proposed curriculum changes to allow time for genuine consultation and consensus building.” Chris Keates NASUWT General Secretary & Christine Blower NUT General Secretary (http://www.curriculumconcern.org.uk/why-the-concern.html)
SAVE CHILDHOOD MOVEMENT: TOO MUCH, TOO SOON CAMPAIGN (2013) An initiative of the Early Years Education Team. “We think that children in England are being badly let down by the system. Our children start formal learning much earlier than elsewhere in the world, they are put under all sorts of developmentally inappropriate pressures that damage their heath and wellbeing and now even their play is being eroded. The five objectives of the campaign are to:
1) re-establish the early years as a unique stage in its own right and not merely a preparation for school
2) protect young children's natural developmental rights
3) prevent baseline testing
4) reinstate the vital role of play
5) call for an English developmentally appropriate Foundation Stage for children between the ages of 3 and 7.”
PRIMARY CHARTER GROUP (2013) An initiative of a group of teachers and public figures started by the Lambeth Branch of the NUT and saying:
“The Coalition Government is reforming education at break neck speed. The Secretary of State Michael Gove is ignoring research evidence and is refusing to engage with professional and parental opinion about what makes a good primary education. It is time our voices are heard. This Charter is an attempt to generate a wider debate across society about what sort of schools we want for our children.” On one A4 page it concisely sets out five issues about primary education
1. Children’s Learning – Children have the right to a broad and balanced curriculum that allows them to develop their talents in all areas
2. Key Skills – Primary schools should develop key skills that allow children to engage with the world around them
3. Values and Citizenship – Primary schools should promote values based on human rights, equality, democracy, diversity, environmental viability and peace
4. Culture and Community – Primary schools should relate to the lives and knowledge of their children, families and communities, while opening up wider cultural horizons through enjoyable participation and learning
5. Management and measurement – The current system of assessment and inspection, performance pay and performance review, must be replaced by staff development networks and learning communities “
CHALLENGING CHANGES IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS’ ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY
ATL NUT & NAHT In a joint document, Common Ground on Assessment and Accountability in Primary Schools, (2010?) the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) call for an end to the excessive, confused and overlapping test and exam-based accountability system in England.
· “England’s test and exam-based accountability system is excessive, confused and overlapping,
· Accountability is hugely over-centralised
· The current system, though finding a greater place for self-evaluation than it did in the past, is still predicated on a lack of trust in the teaching profession.
· Results generated by the accountability system are subject to unnecessary and damaging over-interpretation
· Most importantly, the assessment-based accountability apparatus too often serves to undermine pupils’ learning.”
CHALLENGING CHANGES IN THE GCSE SYLLABUSES AND EXAMINATIONS
Association of School and College Leaders ”ASCL warns that recreating an exam from a bygone era is not the way to raise standards and create a world-class education service in today’s economic climate.” … ASCL General Secretary Brian Lightman said: Simply making exams harder does not guarantee higher standards nor mean that students will be prepared for a job. The curriculum should stretch and challenge the highest achieving students but it must also engage and motivate those who struggle at the other end. … To date school leaders have not been consulted over the development of these syllabuses so it is highly premature to design new qualifications before this consultation has been finalised. It is now time for our legitimate voice to be listened to carefully and acted upon. … To maintain public trust in GCSEs it is absolutely essential that time built in to plan, test and implement new qualifications properly.” (11Jun13)
NASUWT (20Aug13) “In summary, the Union’s continues to remain concerned that: the Coalition Government’s assertions that GCSEs have been associated with the promotion of educational underperformance and should be reformed on this basis are entirely unsubstantiated by evidence;
· there is no evidence to support the DfE’s contention that employers and the higher education community have lost confidence in current GCSE qualifications and that these qualifications must therefore be reformed to enhance their credibility in this respect;
· changes to GCSEs are being taken forward through processes separate to those associated with reforms to the National Curriculum, the school accountability framework and revisions to Level 3 qualifications, thereby undermining critical policy coherence in these important and highly integrated elements of the education system;
· the implementation of unilateral changes in England to Key Stage 4 qualifications will undermine the commonality of qualifications frameworks across the UK, given that the GCSE remains the principal 16-plus qualification in Wales and Northern Ireland;
• the DfE has failed to confirm that it will not seek to introduce a system of norm-referencing for the grading of qualifications or to consider the implications of its proposals for the future operation of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) and the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), through which the comparability and portability of all major qualifications is assured;
• insufficient attention has been given by Ministers to ensuring that the accessibility of GCSEs to the generality of learners continues to be secured through effective arrangements for assessment design, particularly in relation to the use of tiering in assessment tasks;
• the use of terminal examinations as a form of assessment has been privileged by Ministers without sufficient regard being given to the appropriateness of this approach in areas of learning where alternative forms of assessment might be more effective;
• Ministers’ proposals to impose extensive limitations on the use of examination aids without considering the impact this could have on the validity and reliability of assessment have not been withdrawn;
• the potential implications of introducing reforms to only those GCSEs in subjects within the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) framework have not been given adequate consideration, particularly in relation to the impact this approach might have on the currency and status of other GCSEs that remain important components of learning offers within the 14-19 sector;
• inadequate regard has been given by the DfE to the need to ensure that qualifications development is undertaken through processes that are transparent and that secure the full engagement of teachers and their trade unions;
• reform is being taken forward within a wholly unrealistic timescale, creating genuine policy failure hazards as a result of inadequate opportunities to pilot and trial revised qualifications or to audit the potential teacher and school leader workload and organizational manageability implications of the DfE’s proposals; and
• the DfE has failed to ensure that an effective approach to the consideration of the equality and diversity implications of its reforms has been embedded in policy development and implementation processes from the outset.”
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HEAD TEACHERS 8 Sept13 BBC report: Much of the government's plans to revamp England's exams system are being delayed by a year because of concerns by the exams watchdog, Ofqual. Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads' union, NAHT, said: "If the government is struggling to design the new exams in the timescales envisaged how much harder will it be for schools to develop programmes, write materials and train staff at the same pace? More haste less speed."
CHALLENGING CHANGES IN THE A-LEVEL SYLLABUSES AND EXAMINATIONS
NUT Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (9Nov12):
· “While there can always be modifications made to any examination system, the NUT believes that current A-Levels stand up very well when compared with qualifications internationally. Ofqual’s own research has indicated this.
· Some subjects lend themselves to modularisation; others are better taken in a linear format. Getting rid of the modular options, having just one exam at the end of the year and reducing the options for resits will most certainly impact on some students. Students may not perform well on a given day for a variety of reasons. This does not make them a failure.
· The NUT welcomes the possibility that the AS will be retained and be given equal weighting with the A-Level exam.
· Whilst Higher Education should have an involvement in the A-Level development, let’s not forget that it is teachers in schools and colleges who teach the students who sit these examinations. Trusting teachers, which is what Mr Gove says he is keen to do, means engaging with them on examination reform.
· The NUT is also seriously concerned that the timescale for qualification reform is far too short, leaving schools with little time to prepare for such significant changes. Michael Gove should listen to the Chair of the Select Committee for Education and ‘stop taking the urgent pills’ in making such reforms at such a pace without piloting new qualifications or considering what schools consider to be successful in the current 14-19 structure.”
NASUWT These are points taken from the 21 page response to the A-level consultation published on 11Sept12
· “The NASUWT is concerned by the amount of turmoil in the education system instigated by the Coalition Government with little grounds for the far-reaching and precipitous changes other than those of political ambition and prejudice.
· The Union strongly believes that there are a number of principles that should guide decisions about the reform of curriculum and qualifications post-14:
o there must be clear, independent evidence that reform is needed and there must be a democratic basis underpinning reforms. This should recognise the central role of teachers and school leaders and the workforce unions in designing assessments and qualifications.
o Any reform should be given sufficient time for implementation to guard against unintended consequences and any disadvantage to the pupils or the teaching staff and must be fully funded.
o Proposals should be properly assessed for their impact on workload, and the results of evaluations used to inform decisions about assessment and qualification reforms.
· The NASUWT further believes that the curriculum and qualification offer must be relevant to and engage young people. The causes of disaffection and disengagement from education must be addressed, and the offer must help to eliminate inequalities and promote equality of opportunity by being comprehensive and inclusive. It should encourage lifelong learning and help to prepare pupils for the future. It should enable them to become successful learners, confident individuals, and responsible members of society who are empowered to make an effective contribution to society.
· The design of qualifications and their assessment should build from the curriculum. Qualifications and assessment must not ‘drive’ the curriculum and there should be parity of esteem between practical/vocational and academic qualification routes. Decisions about what qualifications and skills are appropriate should start from the needs of the young person.
· The NASUWT warns that the current high stakes, punitive accountability framework including school performance tables, will work against any reform of the education and qualification system. It is likely to encourage ‘teaching to the test’ and discourage schools from offering different qualification and learning routes by, for example, devaluing particular types of qualifications.
· The evidence indicates that there is a need to review the high stakes, punitive inspection regime and the performance league tables that can drive the behaviour of schools and colleges especially in the new market-driven education context.
· The Union is strongly concerned that the current Coalition Government drive to extend the opportunities for developing a market in qualification provision does nothing to improve the health, robustness or efficiency of the qualification system, particularly when a large area of regulation has now been removed.
· The Union holds that there is no need for a new grading structure to be introduced for so-called new A-levels and the current number of grades is appropriate for discrimination. ... It is especially important to retain the current grading system in order to maintain comparability over time. The evidence does not indicate that there is a need to overhaul the qualifications and so it would be gratuitous and redundant to make any change in the grading system. It would only serve as a cynical cosmetic exercise to appeal to Ministers who want to be able to make the misleading claim that the DfE’s policy has improved standards and mended a broken qualification. Research, as mentioned above, upholds the status of the current A-levels.
· The proposals for increased involvement of HEIs in the development of A-levels is based on a whim of Ministers rather than any evidence that this is necessary, appropriate or practical. … The proposal illustrates the emphasis of the Secretary of State on reducing the A-level to an elite university entrance exam ignoring the wider uses to which it is put.
· The question that should be asked, as with the entirety of this consultation as explained above, is what evidence is there that this is a necessary change? There is already engagement between awarding bodies and HEIs as well as with the wider stakeholder community. The development of qualifications should be addressed by all stakeholders and especially teachers because they are best placed to understand the progression of qualifications and the coherence of the education system rather than the top down approach that can distort it.
· The proposed timescale to start teaching the new courses in 2014 is too hasty and subsequently any reforms will be rushed and insufficiently thought through and in consequence the subject delivery will be less well prepared than it could be if a reasonable time allowance were to be given.”
ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL AND COLLEGE LEADERS “Proposed A level changes will increase pressure on students “ (23 January 2013) “ASCL has expressed strong concerns about the proposed overhaul of A level exams set out by Michael Gove today in a letter to the independent regulator Ofqual. The decision flies in the face of the overwhelming feedback from the consultation which said that the current system needs tweaking but is broadly fit for purpose says ASCL, which represents more than 80 per cent of secondary heads.”
Brian Lightman, ASCL General Secretary of ASCL, said:
· “This is a classic case of 'fixing' something that isn't broken. The argument that A levels are not preparing students adequately for university is contradicted by the fact that one in six achieve first class honours - a three fold increase over the last 13 years. The issue of resits has already been addressed. If there is a need to add more rigorous material for the highest achievers this is perfectly manageable without wholesale change to the examination. School and college leaders will fully support change where it is genuinely needed.
· It is disappointing that this has ignored the overwhelming views of the teaching profession, academics, employers and universities to retain the link between AS and A level. AS provides an opportunity for students to take a fourth subject and decide at the end of year 12 which three to specialise in.
· I fear there will be real pressure on students with the return of an 'all or nothing' exam at the end of two years, and undoubtedly there will be a number who do not cope under the strain and who will leave school at 18 with nothing to show for their last two years. If anything this will reduce further the numbers applying to university. It is interesting to note that the vast majority of university courses are modular rather that a single, end-of-course exam.
· These proposals only seem to address young people preparing for a limited set of selective universities. A level is taken by a wide range of students who go on to a vast range of careers, including higher apprenticeships and other training schemes. Without meeting the needs of these students there is a real risk of leaving many of them high and dry and seeing England fall behind other countries that enable a far wider cohort of young people to achieve high-level qualifications. Before A and AS levels are changed we need to see a coherent plan explaining how all qualifications will fit together.
· ASCL urges the Secretary of State to engage in urgent discussion with school and college leaders, employers and universities about this vitally important issue, and we are pleased that implementation has been put back to 2015 in order for this to happen. If the proposals are to go through, it will be essential to align syllabi for AS and A level subjects so that students can still progress from one to the next. We all need to work together in order to get it right”
HEADMASTERS' AND HEADMISTRESSES' CONFERENCE Dr William Richardson, general secretary of the HMC, said: "It is a huge gamble to rush so much change at high speed with no piloting. … It is high-risk. You can't be sure of the consequences." (9Aug13) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23633111
CHALLENGING CHANGES IN TEACHER TRAINING
NEW VISIONS FOR EDUCATION GROUP Professor Sir Tim Brighouse (4Apr13) “We have now reached a position where:
• no-one person or agency has the duty to ensure a sufficient supply of trained teachers nationally, or an efficient local distribution of training places covering all subject areas; and
• qualified teacher status is no longer seen as a necessary requirement for teachers in the English public education system, unless they are in LEA maintained schools.
This is very disturbing..
The question of the partnership between schools and universities is ever changeable but to divorce them completely is a mistake and to suggest that teachers need no training at all is a grave error. Teaching is a complicated business and you must have time to reflect on the pedagogical processes involved. It appears that Michael Gove considers subject knowledge enough. What he appears to fail to see is that you need far more than subject knowledge if you are going to stand up in front of thirty children and teach them stuff that they do not already know and inspire them to want to learn more. You need time – mostly at school but in college too – to learn to do this.”
CHALLENGING CHANGES IN EDUCATION OVERALL
PICKING UP THE PIECES: A BETTER FUTURE FOR OUR SCHOOLS An initiative of CASE (Campaign for State Education), SEA (Socialist Education Association), Forum, Comprehensive Future and ISCG (School and College Governors), which poses these questions and sets out actions needed to respond to them. (None of these links are now accessible Jan2016)
The last of these carries this statement: “Education has become increasingly politicised. Too much control over curriculum and pedagogy is now concentrated in the hands of the Secretary of State, resulting in unacceptable centralization.”
The original document is now no longer accessible on the web but this one describes current activity of CASE #link_2711215
COMPASS (with NUT, SEA and others): NEW EDUCATION INQUIRY (June 2013-July 2014) “Education is arguably the most important thing a society can provide. It has the potential to transform lives, build communities and support the economy. And yet our education system is increasingly looking to the past rather than building for the future. It is becoming more marketised and fragmented; it’s increasingly subject to political interference where parents, teachers and local councillors’ views are marginalized. In recent years the education debate and its policy outcomes in England just haven’t been good enough. Despite great progress made in standards and resources the reality is that we are still developing a system that is increasingly fragmented, under-funded, confused and unequal. The prevailing view of education as a private good rather than a civil and human right needs to be challenged. Great work is being done in schools – but this is despite ‘the system’ not because of it. We really want to change all this.”
An Advisory Council has been set up with four working groups:
· Learning, curriculum and qualifications;
· Democratic organization and governance;
· Co-production and a new professionalism;
· Wellbeing and values
This page was first posted on 7 September 2013 It is based on the websites of the bodies cited. Although Mr Gove is no longer secretary of state the policies he introduced are still in place! (9 February 2015)