“If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will its life believing its stupid.”
Never a truer word spoken in my view and precisley what is wrong with school education in the UK right now. The government, specifically the Department for Education, cross-hairs and trained firmly on the academic scores in core subjects like maths and English. That’s plain WRONG. I’m not saying those subjects aren’t important to education but education doesn’t live or die by those skills.
Earlier today Les Dennis (yes, him that once present Family Foturnes on TV, was in Coronation Street and recently as the bald-headed Uncle Festor in the Addams Family UK tour, we saw it and it was great) tweeted this:
The Arts education is being reduced in Secondary Schools. This is wrong. We cannot underestimate the need of the Arts in our lives.
— Les Dennis (@LesDennis) January 31, 2018
He’s so right. He’s absolutely spot on. The all-out war by the DfE on attainment in core subjects means schools are dropping arts subjects to focus their attentions on these cores areas. Take the secondary school my eldest girls go to. This is a direct shot from their 2017/18 prospectus:
Take note of the words “Specialist Status in the Performing Arts”. So when the dance teacher retired and wasn’t replaced they stopped offering dance as a GCSE. Then there is this line too “Academic achievement is high in GCSE music, art, drama and dance”. Remember this is a school with a specialist status in the performing arts!
You can’t say they have saved a cost in not replacing the retiring teacher either because plenty of teachers have been hired in other subject areas. What they have done is reduce an already poor selection of GCSEs to a dire selection of GCSEs. I get that it’s a smaller than average secondary school, and in a rural area but just a few miles away there’s a bigger school offering far more choice. We event recently entertained the idea of moving them to the other school.
Yes, the school is Ofsted Outstanding. But does that actually matter if they aren’t offering a good variety of subjects to our children? Would an Ofsted Good school be a better choice because they offer more subjects and courses? But moving a young person in year 9 to another school is a massive decision – not one to be taken lightly and one that requires a great deal of consideration. In fact, for now it’s better the Devil you know.
I’m not writing this to knock the school in any way. School leaders and management have to make crucial decisions on a daily basis that affect our childrens’ education. This is my assessment of the situation we, and many other find ourselves in. It’s by no means an easy task and I don’t envy them and I certainly don’t have the answers. I realise that schools act as a direct response to the targets being ultimately set by the DfE in Whitehall and that’s just no good enough from a Government hell bent on statistics and achievement by numbers.