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In this blog we are posting news from around the network, reflections on general news items and other broad-ranging items of interest. Current contributors are Sightlines Initiative directors Robin Duckett, Liz Elders, Debi Keyte Hartland and Chris Merrick.

'The purposes of education'

Shortly before Christmas 2015, the Education Committee decided that they would address this question. ("Now that's a good idea", thought many.) They invited public responses,  identifying three questions of the enquiry:

  • What should be the purpose of education for children of all ages in England ?
  • What measures should be used to evaluate the quality of education against this purpose?
  • How well does the current education system perform against these measures?

They received many responses, and you can see them  - and read them all - here.  The collection of submissions is a powerful set of documents, and worth publishing separately as a case study, we think. (In this article we are giving you an additional link to our original submission, it having been edited to conform.)

In our submission we began, as others also did, suggesting that they actually should begin by asking a preliminary question: 'What are the characteristics of learners?'

To be followed by their question And Then: 'so, what should education look like'?

We really hope that the portfolio of  submissions will cause the group of MPs to think widely, and we are sure that some of them will. 

In their first meeting last week (see the following video from the Parliament website) Gateshead MP Ian Mearns endeavours to steer Michael Wilshaw away from his 'performance indicators' back to the subject of the enquiry:

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Hospital . Wood . Library : a presentation supper in Cambridge

I want it to look foresty. When you see people’s gardens they can be a bit precise….I’d like it to be more free. When it’s perfect it can be limited. We should make this garden feel more wild, that’s what it feels like when you read a book. Eliza, age 8

Our colleagues Cambridge Curiosity & Imagination invite all to a presentation of their recent work. 

Without a doubt it will be fascinating and thoughtful, so if you are in striking range of Cambridge on the evening of 3rd March, mark the date, and get in touch with them!

"Three projects with children in different places

What happens when we invite children to be experts in these familiar places and explore with us some of our big questions - how can we lead more active futures? what can happen outside the classroom? how can this library garden be a friendly space for others?

This supper seminar will explore the challenge of co-creation with children and what that looks like in practice for everyone involved; children, teachers, other educators, families, other artists and experts. CCI artists Sally Todd and Deb Wilenski will share insights from recent work with Addenbrooke's Hospital, Spinney Wild Woods and Rock Road Library."

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"What's life like for the worms?"

On the 14th May, as part of our conference on the work and influence of Loris Malaguzzi, our friend and colleague Professor Gunilla Dahlberg will be discussing the transforming of awareness and practice amongst Swedish educators and preschools in the  Swedish Reggio Emilia Network.  The intriguing title comes from  child's question in one of their schools, which helped the educators develop.

It is a journey of 'learning to listen' – going beyond 'doing': "When we began we loved the idea of project work – but we didn't actually listen to the children!"

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