Pisa tests: UK lags behind in global school rankings

Results from the recent Pisa test confirms at least two important points: 1) teacher education is vital and more work is needed to address the situation in the UK but 2) the Pisa test itself focuses on a very particular kind of learning and does not assess other ways of knowing or take into account our human diversity. Crossfields Institute in collaboration with the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship are launching a new teacher education programme (with a focus on 14-19 education) in September 2017. This programme will focus on gaining competence in teaching, learning and assessment, the core principles of the new ACTS Diploma, such as transdisciplinary approaches, the integration of Creative Thinking Skills, Steiner pedagogy and more. Follow the developments by keeping in touch. If you wish to hear more, write to charlotte@crossfieldsinstitute.com

End of Year Letter from the Chief Executive

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

We have come to the end of another year – the 10th in fact, since the work of Crossfields Institute began in earnest. It has been a year of progress that saw the launch of new qualifications and Higher Education programmes, organisational development projects and multi-stakeholder initiatives. We are keeping you informed on our blog and social media, which you are invited to follow closely.

2016 was also a year of major change, shocking events and surprises. The decision to Brexit and the US Presidential Election woke us up to ‘uncertainty’ in a new way; the terrifying situation in Syria and the tangible crescendo of climate change are just a few examples of what we all witnessed in the last twelve months. It gives our work a sense of urgency and fuels our deep commitment to serve the changing needs of our world. In every crisis and every problem we face there is also an opportunity to act, to connect, to reflect and to learn. So what can we do, how can we do it and what can we learn from it?

At Crossfields Institute and Crossfields International we believe that education is one of the most important, effective and sustainable ways of introducing improvement and positive change. We want to co-create a culture where education, research and work motivate us to transform and respond with positive action. We do not know today what we will need to know tomorrow. Soon, new jobs will replace the jobs we have now. So the education we promote should be about developing individual competence and confidence to work with integrity and creativity in uncertain times. We believe in the potential of each person to make a significant contribution to a healthy, diverse and inclusive society. So we invite your continued involvement and support in whatever way is appropriate and feasible for you within your context. Every effort counts.

Over the last ten years, we have focused on facilitating change through collaboration, growth and wider recognition of our centres, learners, students and partners. This year, we want to do even more to help promote qualifications delivered in our centres and make sure that people who are looking for what we offer can find it and get access.
Together with our partners, Alanus University: Institute for Philosophy and Aesthetics and University of the West of England, we are hosting a conference to address what I have shared with you in this letter. Join us on the 10th and 11th of March 2017 to explore Leadership, Ethics and Working with Unknowing. You can read more about it here.

Thank you all for a good year full of challenges and opportunities. We value your commitment to outstanding and innovative education, research and organisational development, and we are deeply grateful for your colleagueship. We wish you all a peaceful transition into 2017 and a good year ahead!

BBC: University lowers entry grades for disadvantaged

The University of Bristol is to offer places with lower grades to disadvantaged students in local schools. As you will read, teachers will make an assessment as to the competence and potential of the person, regardless of grades achieved. Dare we propose that this carries both risks and advantages: if teachers are not competent to assess the competence and potential of students, we have a major issue – as we know, the education of teachers in this country leaves much to be desired; on the other hand, this proposal from the University promises a move towards accepting the – to us – intuitive notion that grades does not tell us everything we need to know about the competence and potential of a person!

Read more here

The Telegraph: How dry stone wall building can release your inner zen

To most of us, a dry stone wall is just there. Stretching off into the distance, dividing up the fields, it is something you drive past without noticing, something for sheep to scratch up against. For John Matthews, however, a dry stone wall is a thing of unmatched loveliness. More than that, in its earthiness, its natural heft, its timeless resilience, he finds inspiration. When John walks across the Peak District and sees a wall he doesn’t take it in his stride, its glories stop him in his… Read the full story

Art History A-Level will continue to be taught in the UK

“A good day for art and culture” said artist Jeremy Deller, to the news that an Art History A-Level will continue to be available for students in the UK. He went on to say “The study of art history is the study of humanity … a discipline that (is) about looking at things, rather than just rote learning of dates and quotations”. Crossfields Institute is developing an Erasmus+ funded diploma for 14-19 year olds, which seeks to integrate studies across disciplines, and go further and deeper than rote learning.