|But did good win?|
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?… Has it ever occurred to your, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?…The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”1984, George Orwell
|The new, neutral inspector|
You see it everywhere: CPD courses with names like ‘Teach the Ofsted way’ or ‘Integrating discovery learning into your virtual learning platforms the Ofsted way.’ Books, INSETs and agendas, all genuflecting at the altar, sacrificing children’s interests in the hopes that this year’s harvest of absolute grades and relative progress will be a happy one. Will the Gods be pleased? Have we done enough? Are our offerings sufficient, like Abel’s, or will we be marked, like Cain, as Unsatisfactory, and doomed to walk the earth, cursed by parents?
|‘And where is VAK in your planning?’|
Which finally brings me to the opening quote. The problem, which I’ll return to in a later blog, is the contemporary language of education. For decades now there has been a creeping shift in how it is even possible to speak about teaching, learning and schools. To put it bluntly, there is now a Newspeak dictionary of what it is possible and isn’t possible to say. People now talk about students as stake holders, and I think, Jesus, when did that happen? Classes as Learning Zones; corridors become break out areas. Pointless surveys and opportunities to bully staff are justified as ‘student voice, innit?’
Thinking in the right direction; just don’t put all your faith in RCTs. Ben Goldacre’s vision for evidence based learning.
|But is it outstanding?|
Bethnal Green Academy, a soy latte’s throw from both hipster Columbia Road and the surrounding estates, was the venue for the launch of Ben Goldacres’s new advocacy project: Building Evidence into Education. Nice looking school; it’s got BSF written all over every plane and pane. The livery outside the school shouted every second sentence of the latest Oftsed report. Most pleasingly it was styled in the Star Wars font (or as my kids call it, ‘That old film’).
Also, the problems of cognitive bias, the Hawthorne Effect, the John Henry Effect, the Pygmalion Effect and so on are enormous obstacles to appreciating when an intervention is effective and when it is not.
‘…there is strong evidence from a range of sources that the overall standards of behaviour achieved by schools is good and has improved in recent years. The steady rise in standards needs to be celebrated….the great majority of schools are successfully achieving satisfactory or better standards of pupil behaviour…’
‘According to Ofsted inspection data, the majority of schools have Good or Outstanding levels of behaviour. As at December 2011, 92.3% of all schools in England were judged Good or Outstanding for standards of behaviour. A further 7.5% were judged Satisfactory and less than one percent (0.3%) were judged Inadequate.’
‘There is mixed evidence on the extent of poor behaviour reported by teachers... However, another earlier survey showed 69% of members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) reported experiencing disruptive behaviour weekly or more frequently (Neill, 2001)‘
|‘SAY ‘ALLOW IT’ AGAIN! I DARE YA!’|
|‘Nope…no bad behaviour in here…’|
|The IoE had never looked lovelier.|