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Diary

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.

I can see You and You can see Me

I can see you and you can see me. Aimee, 4

This photograph and reflection of Aimee's is from a project which we'll discuss at our day in March, in which early childhood educators will be introducing some of their struggles, questions and successes in developing  an education which sincerely listens to children's enthusiasms and intelligences.

Suddenly the words of Loris Malaguzzi came to mind: "Children show us that they know how to walk along the path to understanding."

We - grown-up educators and parents - certainly benefit from being reminded of this, and encouraged to keep thinking and working for our children and for education.  

I had earlier today been dumped in spirit, having read a recent  statement on education policy by a UK Chartered Accountant: "It is imperative that pupils are taught a knowledge-rich curriculum. And the body of evidence on effective teaching practice is now overwhelming. The PISA results from last year serve to confirm the ever-growing body of international evidence on this point, that teacher-led instruction is more effective than child-centred, enquiry-based approaches."  Why did this 'dump my spirit'? Because this was not just a 'man in a white-collar pub', this accountant is the current UK Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, in a high profile presentation to the Education World Forum a few days ago.   

Here is Loris Maluguzzi again to remind us educators and parents to work for our children:  "Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors or inventors, once they are helped to discover the pleasure of enquiry, their motivation and interest explode. To disappoint the children deprives them of possibilities that no exhortation can arouse in late years."

I think we are all trying to 'walk the path of understanding': Aimee, Loris Malaguzzi, all of us who are listening, enquiring, making places of education for enquiry,  joy and knowledge. (Primary educators, do come join us on our discussion day at the 'outstanding' - and creative - Trimdon/Bluebell Meadows school, and meet one such remarkable place, embedded and treasured by children and the community.)

Mr. Gibb, I find your words utterly chilling, dark and even sinister. Would they provide inspiration in Aimee's world, I wonder? I am more than sorry that you are against us. However, I am convinced that you cannot crush the spirit of enquiry. 

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"Dear Justine Greening, PLEASE suspend primary testing in Yr2 and Yr6 for 2017 ..."

Our parents campaign colleagues are making this appeal to the Secretary of State for Education - do please support this campaign: it is an important step in the broad efforts to achieve an education fit for human imagination and enquiry.

"We believe that the DfE is damaging the mental health of children through its excessive testing and is devaluing education by promoting rote learning of age-inappropriate grammatical concepts.

If we do not suspend tests this year then we are setting our children up to fail by forcing them to be part of a system that does not consider them individuals, but instead data on a page to be analysed.

We are creating children who are stifled and demotivated due to continuous and unnecessary teaching to the test. We are setting schools up to fail and leaving them open to academisation ...

We want teachers, unions and mental health experts to be able to work together with the Government to create a curriculum that encourages our children to develop inquiring minds and a love of learning.

This takes time... We are very concerned that adequate time has not been taken in the current political climate to ensure another assessment 'car crash' does not take place in 2017."

Read their full statement and sign their petition HERE.

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More than a Score ...

Shortly before Christmas 2015, the Parliamentary Education Committee announced that they would address the question: 'What are the purposes and desirable qualities of education?'. Fantastic. We contributed, (see Diary article) and attended their conference. It has all now gone very quiet.

But not outside of Westminster. 

We were delighted to find that a coalition is emerging, and we are now members. It is called 'More Than a Score'  and its campaign is to re-enliven education. It too is addressing the question 'what are the purposes and desirable qualities of education': and it is a group of determined organisations and people. 

 At MTAS 2016 conference, author Tanya Landman posed the question "Are we in sinister territory? Do politicians actively want to switch children off from learning, from thinking for themselves?"

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