Category: Education

Could Obsession with Exams lead to long term failure?

We like this article in the Telegraph and agree that exams are often not the best way to find out what a learner knows, exams only test things that are easy to measure – so they miss out the more subtle skills and abilities that are so important in today’s job market – communication, creativity, team work, practical skills, etc. This is why we don’t use exams to measure achievement in Crossfields Institute qualifications.

The power of collective education to disrupt straightforward cultural transmission

Kevin Stannard writes for TES that collective education (school, university, non-formal group learning, etc) can be the most effective way in which to challenge and question cultural and societal norms. This is especially true of education that values critical thinking, active engagement, self-expression and exploration. When we develop qualifications at Crossfields Institute we seek to go beyond the purely functional purpose of acquiring knowledge, understanding and skills, and inspire learners who can individually and collectively take a creative, reflective approach to their life and work.

London inner-city school adopts inspired strategies

The London Nautical School rejects exam focused schooling and chooses some radical strategies to engage pupils. In English and Science pupils can chose what to study, and which teacher to work with, from a range of proposals put forward by the teachers. It is interesting to note that in a book by John Bazalgette ‘School Life and Work Life’ published in 1978! similar suggestions were being made. The school has also rejected ‘setting’ – where pupils of different perceived ability are taught separately. To find out more about this and the results they are getting see this article from Aljazeera news

A Better School Inspection Regime?

Ofsted’s new Chief, Amanda Spielman, who used to be the head of Ofqual has just given her first interview. She talked about being aware of the huge pressure schools feel when Ofsted inspection time arrives. As a charity committed to holistic education, we would like Ofsted to improve in measuring how a school performs in all sorts of ways that are not just about the academic achievement – how is the school developing the social and emotional intelligence of the young person, how are they doing in building confidence and curiosity? Let’s watch this space…

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

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.

The best age to learn?

Research, published recently by academics from UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, has shown that older teenagers and young adults are able to improve their fundamental maths skills and reasoning abilities more rapidly than younger teens. This research resonates with the approach of Steiner Waldorf schools, who identify these strengths in older teenagers and actively plan their curriculum accordingly. The research also highlights the flaws in testing at age 11 for selective schooling, given that these skills can be significantly improved at a later stage.

The research suggested that older teenagers could reveal further potential even after sitting GCSEs at 16. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
The research suggested that older teenagers could reveal further potential even after sitting GCSEs at 16. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

No more Art History

It has been widely reported that it will no longer be possible to study “A” level Art History, the last awarding organisation has recently dropped it from their portfolio of qualifications. This is sad news, the study of the history of art is the study of the development of ideas and our cultural identity and could have a detrimental effect on thriving creative industries across the UK. What other rich and rewarding subjects are in danger of being lost to the students of today?

Some 839 students sat an A-level exam in the subject this summer, making it an expensive course for the board to maintain Getty