It is quite frustrating having been in post as a leader for some 15 years now and hearing the drivel of people who think they know best when it comes to education. I am not sitting on the fence here but to have so many suggest that longer school days and longer terms to get the children to catch up on lost learning shows a real lack of understanding of child development; of what learning is and what is important. Many would presume that more time in class will result in greater learning, but this simply is not true.
I can recall trying to get colleagues to give more time to physical education in the school week. Linked with the Youth Sports Trust, Sports England, Humber Sports and other advocates for PE and Sport, I have spent a fair amount of time trying to get people to realise that more English and mathematics teaching does not result in better grades. Education and the intended learning is not a simple case of more time converting to greater grades. In the case of physical education for example, high quality physical education aids the learning process and ability to do better. In the current situation that we are in, granted, many children will have missed out on some learning but that learning is not lost forever like some so called experts (or those given air time) may lead you to think. Children will catch up and will do so quicker than you think. Have a read of the book, ‘Cleverlands’ – so many different education systems across the world and guess what – the end result is pretty much the same. Did you know that children on the continent do not start formal education until six/seven years old? Would you be shocked to know they do as well (arguably better) than those that start at 4? A few years ago I was fortunate to visit Canada; a place with better results than us in the renowned PISA results. Would it shock you to hear that colleagues criticised, quite blindly, the practices there – but they do better than England! Too many people in today’s world (from England) are so quick to create a panic and make ridiculous statements that hold no ground. Sadly, many will believe them. I fear that many of our children will be subjected to longer school days and less time to play with friends and experience the beauty of the world and opportunity to play. Some schools and some Trusts (today’s world) will be strong and do what is right – protect the time that matters most and will have the greatest real impact. Others sadly, will not.
Put simply, getting children (or anyone) to do more of something will not make them better. If not a passion for them, it will turn them off and they will actually do worse.
For me, it has been a good few days this half-term, relaxing with family and getting some jobs done. The main aim was sorting the son’s bedroom; getting rid of lots of old toys and various belongings, ready to paint and have a refresh. That has been mostly achieved. I have run every day and feel good for it. These days are precious and to jeopardise family time for longer working hours is rather idiotic. Covid and the lockdown is hard but if it wasn’t, would we just do it all of the time for any contagious illness?
Having visited Canada; and Sweden a few years before, the ways education is not a political ball knocked about and used to score points is so very much desirable; sadly I have no hope that will be the case here as there is no respect, gratitude, empathy nor real understanding. To be honest, my respect for those in position has diminished greatly lately and the respect has gone.
That aside, stay strong and see the lockdown through. Don’t become ignorant and encroach the space of others. Don’t go having a party – we all want to but it is not the right thing to do – just yet!