The Ideal School Exhibition

Wednesday 14 February 2018

The Ideal School Exhibition, by Julian Astle, November 2017

This paper from the RSA tells the story of individual schools who in the UK are revisiting the purpose, principles and power of education in order to transform the learning of the students.

It is long (134 pages!) but contains many nuggets of gold and much that is relevant to schools outside of the UK that are challenged with a national system of high stakes testing, or staff struggling with the knowledge versus skills debate. There's a great discussion on the balance between a knowledge rich vs skills based curriculum (pages 36-75), the relative merits of setting and streaming (pages 81-85), and the recruitment, induction and development of staff (pages 92-94).

I have extracted a number of great 'thought pieces' from the report which you can find in the following places:

This paper is about a group of schools that are bucking a growing and concerning trend: that of schools narrowing their focus, and hollowing out their teaching, in their desperation to meet the constantly shifting demands of the government’s accountability system.

This trend is understandable. The risks associated with leadership have become so high, with governors and trustees fearing for their schools and headteachers fearing for their jobs, that the task of clearing the latest threshold or hitting the next target has come to dominate almost everything many schools do; proof, if it were needed, that in high-stakes, low-trust systems, only those things that get measured tend to get done (with too few questions asked about how they get done).

But there are some school leaders who simply refuse to play this bureaucratic education-by-numbers game; leaders whose decisions are shaped, not by the government’s agenda, but by their own sense of mission – by the higher purpose to which they have dedicated themselves and their schools.

Download the report HERE.


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