Manifesto



There is a very deep malaise in education in many countries and particularly the UK. It is typified by politicians' obsessions with the country's PISA scores and a fixation on standardised testing as by far the major accountability measure for schools. When a school leader of the stature of John Tomsett states "Too many schools are toxic places" it is not possible to deny this.

This malaise becomes obvious when you compare schools that have properly normalised the use of digital with those that are resisting this.

The over-riding concern of schools that have normalised digital is to help all their pupils be engaged in, and succeed in learning. It is the digital mindset of the school leaders and teachers which demands this take precedence. Hitting the school's accountability targets is seen to depend on how well pupils can learn. Pupils have intrinsic pressure to learn and succeed.

The over-riding concern of schools resisting digital and connectedness is for teachers to drive pupils to be able to get required grades in standardised tests. Much of the pressure on pupils to achieve this is extrinsic.

Intrinsic pressure to rise to learning challenges drives deep and broad learning with stress accepted and personally managed by young people. Extrinsic pressure makes learning stressful in ways young people cannot themselves control, which for many makes learning much harder than it should be and which damages their well-being.


This is of course a gross generalisation but 40 years working with schools and listening to all sorts of commentary on what is happening in schools convinces me that it is largely true. And that the large majority of schools are as John Tomsett observed failing in their duty to young people.


This is a situation that urgently needs to be remedied.

It is however unlikely to change until sufficient parents come to see that there is another way and demand it of politicians and school leaders. The vast majority of current parents went through schools like this and have come to consider this to be 'how schools work'.

What is making this unsustainable is that our digital and connected world requires young people to have learnt how to learn, how to take personal responsibility for their learning, and to learn continuously every day of their lives. Out of school this is what young people and parents do - virtually all of us are now connected and have our own digital devices and use them constantly to do this. How often do you turn to the internet to check something or to discover what others think and feel about an issue?


My aim is to do what I can to help change public opinion on the schooling experience our young people must have.

I believe it was Anita Roddick who said "If you think you are too small to change the world, try sleeping with a mosquito". That is a good motto to have in your head when you wake up in the morning.