Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The education predictions for 2014 (and on)

I'm having this discussion, mostly about the secret world of Michael Gove.

Not his kitchen arrangements, or the way the housekeeper organises his sock drawer, obviously! But what are his educational visions inspired by his Damascus visit to China? (If you see what I mean.)

My current thoughts are roundabout. But here I'm calling them predictions.

1. Education as a business. When wasn't it? But I'm expecting to see it gather strength across all educational outlets.

2. Learners become consumers. More shifty footwork to be done. For example, whose responsibility is the learning experience? Especially in accreditation. If you buy a service (Tinkertop's Physics course) and in the terms of its trading standards it is deemed to have failed (Tinkertop gets a pathetic Grade D) then someone's to blame and it's not going to be Tinkertop.

3. Probably why the political class don't want to unseat primary education law. If it's the parent's job to educate Tinkertop, then it must be made their fault when Tinkertop turns up with her Maths Grade E, even when the dutiful parent signed Tinkertop up to the local Bash Street Academy. If the law changed to imply her education is the responsibility not of the parent but of any other body, then party support from the edu-business might no longer be forthcoming.

4. Yes, the parents must be the ones to blame! They must be the administrators and technicians for the school too. Their administrative co-operation must be enforced, somehow. This has been happening in one way or another for years, but I'm waiting for when our school-choosing neighbour complains how Bash Street has announced they're running an exciting new online learning opportunity. All parents (or at least those who would like to show they care about Tinkertop's education) are requested to sign in for the online homework group run every evening between 5-9pm. Parents are expected to supervise this exceptional learning opportunity. (Not that it's obligatory for your child's education! Only if you care.)

5. Expect a growing publishing opportunity for gazillions of guilt-books marketed direct to parents, roughly along the lines of How to Get Tinkertop Flying Marks in her English GCSE!

6. England's schooling system starts to look a bit Chinese.

7. But soon you can enjoy all the benefits of a regulated private market, with thousands of private schools offering many types of educational provision run by educational suppliers running independently with government approval, or part-funded by government. (If you were attached to the idea of a state education system, reflect what happened to the dinosaurs.)

8. In which system, any type of teacher who wants to support a state system is downright annoying. They must be weeded out, as they will only make life difficult for other interests. From Gove's point of view, it would be better if they just shut up. First, let's have any professional status stripped from them, so no-one listens to them. Then, they can be true servants, administering the internal paperwork, completing the exam admin, and monitoring the presence or absence of children for the benefit of other agencies. Child traffickers, say. (In data sets, not bodies.)

9. A little less practitioner resistance would assist the increasing opportunities for large-scale business involvement across all expanding record keeping, accreditation, administration and monitoring needs, using data fed from individual schools. 'Free' schools will be particularly helpful in turning up new opportunities, as their back-of-house admin must be outsourced.

10. As the role of the teacher in the actual teaching process declines, they must be put to use elsewhere. They are good at admin jobs, no? PGCE courses will increasingly have modules devoted to online target delivery and online student assessments.

11. Technology-driven educational programmes will spread. Crikey, even I'm doing a MOOC. The model will be adopted and adapted everywhere. Some 'winners' and 'losers'. Maybe the traditional bodies will lose. An OU staff member I spoke to recently (senior, so you'd expect they'd know what was going on), had no idea how MOOCs are organised, indeed had barely heard of them. (Worrying.)

12. Home educators, there is no escape. Registration, is it inevitable? Imagine a situation (we have uncontrolled migrants, running loose!) where every child must be registered in their local area with an educational supplier, and every child must be signed up to an approved scheme delivered online. Then the learning delivery organisation couldn't care less whether Tinkertop's in school, in the library, or in the garden shed.

13. All parents will be required to register their little Tinkertops on a suitable examined or assessed course because we only want to know the strengths and aptitudes of every child! Is that unreasonable?

14. As part of a registration process, all parents must prove residential status. (Remember the uncontrolled migrants, running loose!) If you apply for a grant, or expect to support in part or in whole the school fees, then you must submit details of household income, employment information, the taxation paid and the benefits received. This'll stop those migrants from dropping their kids in a school on a casual basis, and you'll all be brought under the eye of the tax system. (This is a previous Gritty prediction; and I note now how public employees are invited to think how it would look from the point of view of the immigration officer.)

15. As the where-you-can-take-it and the how-you-can-take-it educational market fragments, then central control via national testing becomes the means by which uniformity and conformity can be maintained. Expect 'essential' national exams if we are going to enter into 'the international market' and be 'global players' with 'world-class' scholars in a competitive 'global arena' etc. etc.

16. Leaving administrators to head up organisations and implement the decisions; headteachers who've worked in business development and marketing at Microsoft, for example. Not practitioners, not people with on-the-ground experience, and not people who necessarily have the full picture, but paper & screen-based operatives preferred into positions of power who are themselves implementing requirements from elsewhere.

17. The free use of doubletalk. I kicked enough against delivery of the curriculum when that began to dominate the edu-lingo-babble in the 1980s but it didn't get me anywhere. I expect it will all go on as Tinkertop continues to receive her entitlements, opportunities, rights, common goals, and national targets.

18. Tinkertop? Yes it's all about you. Preparing you for school from birth? Project begun. School aged 2? Project begun. Homework clubs and breakfast clubs and weekend school and holiday school? Project begun. Mama's supervising your homework? Project begun. Years and years and years to go, with you sat at your desk learning exactly what we tell you? Project begun. We just want you to reach your full potential.

Now, what are you thinking of, standing on that ledge?

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