The Importance of Education John Gardner School of Education Queen’s University TEAN Annual Conference Glasgow Caledonian University May 21st, 2010
The Importance of Education • Scotland: 15th century schools for sons of noblemen • 1616 Education Act: every parish - a school and • Lapsed, re-established, strengthened in the Education Act 1696 • Ireland: 3,450 schools in 1821 in Ulster (1,200 today)
The Importance of Education • Objectives of Government (Ireland 1836) • ... to promote the general intelligence and good conduct of the poorer classes of this country; • ... to allay animosities, and to cultivate good feelings between the parties that may have been at variance; • ... to introduce as much of religious instruction as can be done without exciting jealousy and contention, and hostile feeling, either towards government and [sic] towards one another.
The Importance of Education • Universal Education (England and Wales 1870) • It will place an elementary school wherever there is a child to be taught whether of rich or poor parents; • ... and it will compel every parent and guardian of a child to have it taught, at least, the rudiments of education, • ... and that without reference to any religious creed or persuasion
Universal Education • Scotland: compulsory 1872 Education (Scotland) Act • Ireland: 1892 Education (Ireland) Act • 75 days of compulsory education per year for children – cities, not rural areas.
Important Aims of Education • Should enable children and young people to: • be prepared for independent living; • develop a healthy and positive disposition to life; • contribute to their community and society; • be helped to develop to their full potential; • experience economic and environmental wellbeing; • have their rights respected; and • enjoy learning and achieving.
Schools as Vehicles for Education • Schools are ‘bad’ because they are disrupted by the behaviour of pupils … • Or • Are they ‘bad’ because the school is disrupting the education of the pupils?
Inspectors’ Reports • OfSTED Chief Inspector 2008-09: 4% of inspected primary, 6% of inspected secondary schools inadequate • Potentially 350,000 pupils • Northern Ireland Chief Inspector’s Report 2006-08: L&M ‘needed to improve’ in 25% of schools, ‘inadequate or unsatisfactory’ in 10% of post-primary schools • Potentially 15,000
Excelling Against the Odds • Quality of leadership is a major determinant in effective schools; • Disadvantage need not be a barrier to achievement; • Putting students first; • Investing in staff; • Nurturing communities; • High expectations, applied consistently; • Constantly looking for ways to improve.
Happiness in School? • “I like school a lot” • 19% England (16th /21 OECD countries) • 22% RoI (10th /21) • Top ratings: • Norway (39%) • Austria (36%) • Netherlands (34%) • Lowest rating: Finland (8%)
Traditional Perspective • “Speak when you are spoken to!” • “We know best” • “Everything we do is for your own good” • “You are too young to understand!”
Hear Them, Listen To Them • ‘It is our view that the leaders and managers could learn much about the quality of their provision by listening more often and more carefully to what young people have to say’ – Chief Inspector, NI (2007)
Teaching Standards/Competences • England:Professional Standards for Teachers: Why sit still in your career? • Northern Ireland: Teaching: the Reflective Profession: Incorporating the Northern Ireland Teacher Competences • Republic of Ireland:Codes of Professional Conduct for Teachers • Scotland: The Standard for Full Registration • Wales:Qualified Teacher Status Standards
Targets Become the Goal • NCLB, CVA etc • Three bands of pupils: • those who definitely will make the target grade • those who might make the target grade • those who will definitely not make the target grade • Individual needs of pupils are lost
Targets Become the Goal • Goodhart’s Law (1998): Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes. • Once a measure is used to regulate a process, it becomes the target itself • … and out goes the importance of education itself!
Targets Become the Goal • England: school league tables • Institute of Fiscal Studies (2010): • “Despite the numerous studies available, there is no definitive evidence for the effects of school competition” • Target-chasing means individual learning needs become a secondary concern
Strengthening the Importance of Education • Use fixed term contracts for headteachers! • Increase headteacher salaries! • Make all schools happy places! • Involve pupils in all aspects of schooling! • Make ‘learning’ an everyday topic of discussion!
A Final Word ‘The walls of the world expand, the scope of our possibilities opens and widens for the duration of the stanza. We go beyond our normal cognitive bounds and sense a new element where we are not alien but liberated, more alive to ourselves, more drawn out, more educated.’ (S Heaney 1983)
The Importance of Education Thank You
Some References: Charles Goodhart was chief advisor to the Bank of England in 1998 when he formulated the ‘law’: Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes Elementary Education Act, 1870 (England and Wales) http://www.archive.org/stream/elementaryeducat00greauoft/elementaryeducat00greauoft_djvu.txt Hyland, A. and Milne, K., (1987) (Eds) Irish Educational Documents, Church of Ireland College of Education, Dublin: Rathmines Institute of Fiscal Studies Report at http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/comm113.pdf Pont, B., Nusche, D. and Moorman, H. (2008) Improving School Leadership, Volume 1, OECD www.sourceoecd.org/education/9789264044678 UNICEF (2007) Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries. UNICEF: Innocenti Research Centre, Florence http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc7_eng.pdf (use with caution - data from 2000-01 and with problematic sampling for England)