1st November 2014
Reform – The word still fresh in the minds of a group of emphatic students and teachers who on friday visited the Department for Education in London. The topic of the day was “Reforming qualifications and the curriculum to better prepare pupils for life after school”; the subjects included for GCSE:
• Cooking and nutrition
• Design technology
And for A-level:
• Drama and theatre
For those of you who don’t know, theDepartment for Education (DfE) is responsible for education and children’s services in England. Ayath Ullah (@ayathullah), invited me to attend the event. To grow, you must learn, a very adequate phrase with the days topic in mind; as a Public Relations entrepreneur this event gave me some valuable insight which shall be shared below.
In the UK the proportion of students receiving good results in literacy and numeracy has gone up, however, employers and universities are dissatisfied with school leavers. Over 40% of employers need to organise additional training for these school leavers joining their team. Now, I am not saying that you have to be trained up before you enter the working world. I am a firm believer in improving yourself and your skills, and a good method of doing so is receiving in house training through your job. It is the belief of the government that providing a more rigorous curriculum whilst allowing for freedom to teach in the most effective way will assist students by providing them with the skills needed for later life.
The day kicked off with a good icebreaker- I love a good icebreaking game. We had to introduce ourselves as the person sitting next to us, getting you to really listen to what your neighbour was saying. Then a quick game of ”HM Government Bingo”, which I must say went very successfully, with the students naming a wide variety of Government departments. Following this, there was the first action on the agenda, a debate. The students were split into two groups, one representing the government in favour of reform, and the other representing head teachers against the reform. After 10 minutes of creating their opening statements, battle commenced! I was very impressed to the quality and confidence with which the students spoke, and with the passion and clarity with the message in which they were trying to impart upon us. It is humbling to see these students, taking an enthused interest in politics and with that their own future in such a positive and constructive way.
Next on the order of events was a roundtable to discuss GCSE citizenship; whether there is an apt level of challenge planned and whether the changes themselves actually reflects what students actually need to “prepare them for life after school”. The group was further split into 4 groups; with no surprise at all, I was once again astounded by the quality of presentation given by the students and appetite they showed in wanting to make a change for the better. Another round table event followed later in the afternoon, this consisted of splitting the groups again, looking at each of the proposed curriculums and further discussing whether there is once again a suitable level of challenge. In addition, discussing whether the reflection of what the needs of the students are present in the new curriculum.
The final item on the agenda was on Equality and Diversity; the Equality Act 2010 states that the government must have “due regard” when making decisions. The students and teachers were asked to consider the ways in which the current proposal impacts the selected characteristics which include:
• Gender Reassignment
• Pregnancy and maternity
• Religion and belief
• Sex (male/female)
• Sexual orientation
The students then further discussed the changes they thought would occur if the new proposal was implemented; where negative implications were identified the students were very industrious in producing solutions. The compassion and understanding shown by the students further impressed the likes of myself, their teachers, Ayath and the other esteemed guests.
The students were a credit to themselves, their school and to the Department for Educations as they provided a great deal of input for the DfE to carry forward in their final decision on these subject reforms.
There is currently a report being prepared which details the discussions from the day. I will post it here as soon as it is published.
The majority of the younger generation of today do not read newspapers; reading a newspaper was not mentioned by a single student when discussing communication. This comes as a reminder to the Public Relations Industry that we need to adapt to the new channels of communication or we will get left behind.
Photos included were taken by Ieuan Berry (@IeuanB123)