It's not all about the national curriculum
Stephen Munday, chief executive of The Cam Academy Trust and executive principal of Comberton Village College, explains why providing a great education for our young people might mean going beyond what school inspectors will be told to look for in 2017.
We all have our hopes and wishes for the coming year. Some might be more ‘realistic’ and reasonable than others, but there are things that we would like to see happen. So what about our schools? What might we wish for them?
It is, of course, very tempting to suggest what the Government might do for schools. New GCSEs and A levels for secondary schools are happening and new pupil assessments for primary schools have been put in place. They will be there for schools, like it or not.
The Government will announce the outcome of its consultation on major new proposals, including the possibility of re-introducing grammar schools. The impact of that could be very great in our area and many of us might have major concerns about it.
Her Majesty’s new chief inspector will start and will no doubt have her views about how schools should be inspected. Many schools will have clear and strong views about this. We all believe that we very badly need some increased funding to run our schools. There appears very little prospect of that in the coming year.
However, perhaps we should wish for something different. It might be a good principle to wish for something that you can do something about rather than relying on others (perhaps especially ‘the Government’).
So here goes. For the coming year, I wish that those of us making decisions in schools do what we think is right and best for the excellent education of all of our pupils and for our communities. I wish that this would drive and motivate what we do rather than other pressures that might push us in different directions.
What that might mean is that we do not simply change what we do according to the latest measure of accountability suggested for our schools. We do not just jump according to the latest suggestion made in changed inspection criteria for schools. What it does mean is that we are clear about what a proper and really good education is for all of our pupils, including whether it might be different for different pupils.
It means that we might really value the importance of physical education and the arts in the education of all our children, even if that scores few points in official measurements of schools.
It means organising activities that develop key characteristics for young people such as resilience, problem-solving and team work, even though such activities are not a part of any formal national curriculum. It means developing rounded citizens who care about others. And it will mean much more as well.
So let’s get on and provide the great education that we really believe in for everyone. If we manage that this year, then that is the best thing that any of us can wish and hope for in our schools.