By: Blonde Two

Education, as you know, is close to Blonde hearts. There can surely be nothing that is more important to a society than the education of its young people. Recent (dare I say encouraging) reports of comments from Amanda Spielman the new head of Ofsted (I cringe even typing the ‘O’ word) suggest that this unkind, unpleasant and often unthinking organisation has maybe realised the damaged that judging schools merely on exam results has done (particularly to outdoor education).

Education is a political porn, just like the NHS everybody thinks they could do it better and politicians play on this to gain approval (aka power). That’s why exam-alone league tables are so appealing to governments, they give quantifiable data (numbers to the rest of us). Numbers fit easily into reports, nobody can argue that one number is not bigger than another and numbers make great news graphics.

Children however are not numbers. They have infinitesimally different needs, ambitions and backgrounds. They don’t benefit from pressure, being shamed by the display of their exam results or staying inside from dawn to dusk to attend exam preparation lessons. Children thrive and grow when they are presented with a mixed bag of opportunities. When they are exposed to a wide variety of different ideas, experiences and adult input including being outside and learning to work in teams.

Well that is what I was taught when I made my rather late entry into teacher training (10 years ago) and that is what i was committed to during my (admittedly rather brief) teaching career. To start with this earned me praise, encouragement and promotion but as exam result pressure rose (a pressure cooker could not have done this quicker) my beliefs fell out of favour.

Great then to hear that Ofsted are now being led by somebody who recognises that exam alone education is really no education at all and that the results gaining tactics of some schools are not acceptable (who could blame them though when jobs are on the line and budgets shrinking). Let’s hope that this is the start of the circle’s upturn, that strategies like ‘Every Child Matters’ will replace ones that could reasonable be entitled ‘Every Data Drop Matters’.

There is still a national army of teachers out there who have passion for their subjects and want to make sure that their students learn in every sense of the word. Most of them haven’t let their convictions slide, but let me tell you, this will have been difficult. It is too late now for me to return to teaching but I am at least still blessed by opportunities to continue working with young people. I have had offers for DofE work coming out of my ears this summer.

As Blonde One said in a recent interview, teenagers are amazing, it has always been a privilege to work with them and they deserve the very best that we can give them.

PS Sorry about the political spleen venting… I promise a return to posts about Dartmoor, swimming and knickers very soon!