An Education Campaign – bringing parents, students and teachers into the conversation

The RSA is considering a new campaign about schooling. There is currently a lot of talk about change in schools, and more importantly a lot of action. The campaign, currently in the feasibility stages, would aim to open up the conversation going on amongst educationalists about schooling to a much wider audience.

The idea is to draft a ‘charter’ for education in the 21st century that sythesises what we and many others have been thinking and doing, and to promote that vision to parents, students and teachers.

If people are excited by the vision in the charter, we would then hope to show them what can be done about it. By sharing accounts of exciting work already being done in schools, we would demonstrate what is already possible within the current policy framework. For people who get the vision and have read about the practice, we would then help them take action by creating connections between people who sign up to the charter at a local level.

And you never know – it might shift the media debate away from the tired round of negative headlines about behaviour, admissions, standards and results that currently dominate at the expense of the positive change many people naturally don’t believe is possible.

The below is a summary of the first draft of the charter. It is still being worked on. Once this is complete, it will be completely rewritten again to express the points so as to appeal to a broader audience if the campaign goes ahead. But this is where we are at so far.

We’d welcome any comments about the idea of an education campaign, the content of the charter or – even more valuable to us – examples of things that it might inspire you to do with your local schools.

A Charter for Education in the 21st Century

1. The primary responsibility of a school should shift from achieving exam
results to making sure that young people enjoy learning and exploring ideas,
and are capable of carrying on learning throughout life

2. Schooling is not just about transmitting subject knowledge. Education in
schools should seek to foster the emergence of wisdom in young people

3. No child’s experience of school should be defined by failure. Every child
must enjoy success at school and schools have a responsibility to actively
support all young people to fulfil their potential however they are
intelligent or talented

4. Schools should reduce the attainment gap between rich and poor students
through working alongside other local services and the wider community

5. Schools should not be sites of conflict, but be intelligent communities
where young people can learn to be happy and build relationships with
peers and adults that are characterised by respect

6. Students should work in partnership with their school to design their own
learning and shape the way their school community operates

7. Schools should engage parents in children’s schooling

8. Schooling should be made relevant and disengagement prevented through
the use of practical, real-life learning

9. Teachers should not be ‘deliverers’ of a set curriculum, but instead act as
creative professionals and curriculum developers

We’d love to receive your comments.


Filed under RSA National Education Campaign

4 responses to “An Education Campaign – bringing parents, students and teachers into the conversation

  1. A campaign of this kind – coming from the RSA – has huge potential for really making progress for children, not least because the RSA has a unique position to express collective views of this kind in a researched way and with no political agenda.

    I feel it is important to appreciate that many of these 9 points are ones that many educators feel passionate about and are already trying develop. Where progress is continually getting stuck is in trying to inspire collective change when societal attitudes to education are often firmly fixed on traditional methodologies which don’t reflect the dramatic changes in real society, many of these very positive. And even within education some of these ideas seem almost radical, despite being founded in solid research where the evidence of successful change is widespread.

    There is such an opportunity with a campaign of this kind to aim to :

    – Open up the thinking throughout society about schooling. It is often more closed minds and attitudes within wider society which stops real progress because it saps the confidence of educators and makes the day-to-day implementation of positive change exhausting and sometimes impossible.

    – Show examples of how schools have made new ideas work and thus give others the encouragement to try new things and fight a little against ‘my way is the way’ mindset. By promoting examples of how schools have become re-energised by countless different types of initiatives, schools should be able develop their own self-efficacy in doing things differently instead of the homogenization we see so often in schools in the name standardisation. As you have expressed already – getting examples of what is already being doing to meet these educational aims is really important. I heard a great quote yesterday – ‘Sometimes it is easier to get forgiveness than permission’ – I wonder why education sprung immediately to mind?

    – Demonstrate a positive and inclusive model of working with educators, students and parents. Harnessing the expertise and knowledge, but also the goodwill, within a complex community like a school can be very difficult and this can’t happen without deliberate intentions and methodologies.

    – Ensure that schools are viewed as the exciting places they often are or should be. Your point 9 is almost more important than all the others. When teachers are given inspiration and autonomy to be creative in their classrooms and the wider school, they engage with the whole community on a much more inclusive and enthusiastic level. Supporting teachers is vital.

    The RSA I am sure would aim to be descriptive and positive in its tone should it decide to proceed, rather than highly prescriptive. People’s attitudes seem to change most easily and quickly with information and demonstration . . . . rather than a dissection of where they are currently stuck or possibly going wrong.

    It is very exciting that the RSA are considering this very important work – what a wonderful idea!!

  2. Alan McMurdo

    I note your number 8. “Schooling should be made relevant and disengagement prevented through the use of practical, real-life learning”.

    This is thoroughly laudable and necessitates an engagement with systemic issues.

    Local authorities, private commercial schools, local communities, businesses and other partners can all influence relevance and disengagement in particular [maintained] schools. The RSA is well placed to ask relevant [and possibly] tough questions about system wide issues.

    Alan McMurdo

  3. Barry Taylor

    Picking up on No. 9, schools also need to be places that also support the learning and development of the teaching professionals and other support staff. This will enable the schools to be real learning communities in totality rather than places where learning is ‘delivered’ or ‘facilitated’.

  4. Pingback: Education for the 21st Century: A Charter « RSA Education’s Weblog

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