Is 14 too young to choose your educational path?

The UK government initiative to introduce University Technical Colleges, to create centres of excellence for vocational education is under scrutiny, following news that seven have recently announced their impending closure. The impetus for these colleges came from the 2004 Tomlinson review into secondary education.

Significantly, Tomlinson did not recommend separate pathways for academic and vocational education, rather the replacement of multiple exams and qualifications with a single, integrated Diploma approach, utilising an extended project as a significant component.

Crossfields Institute is working on an Erasmus+ funded project with schools in four countries to develop a Diploma that combines academic and practical learning, and requires students to complete an Independent Project and, in doing so, seeks to respond positively to the recommendations in the Tomlinson review and create an integrated approach to learning that will enable a wide variety of students to achieve their full potential.

Goat time out!

Varndean School in Brighton have a specialised team who have helped the school de-escalate challenging behaviour. The flock of goats initially came to the school to maintain the grass, but are now having a significant impact on behaviour and wellbeing:

Crossfields Institute works with a number of affiliated organisations who already know the value of engaging with the natural world for young people, and our qualifications seek to develop healthy, integrated engagement with the world around us.

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