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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Different strokes?

As Heath Monk’s piece in the Guardian yesterday, "The Mossbourne way is not the only way to be an 'outstanding' schooland the subsequent response on Twitter suggested, there seem to be some pieces missing from the collective education jigsaw.  It can’t be the case that there is only one way to achieving the best education for our children schools.
Putting aside context or 'theory x' vs 'theory y' or ‘command and control’ vs. ‘enabled models’ for the moment.  I think there is a more fundamental problem here as evinced in my daughter’s school’s motto,

“Excellence for all”

I think we ought to pause for a moment for that to sink in…

It is one of the those statements that at first glance appear to be very much what schools should be aiming for but then, like nails down a blackboard, should set your teeth on edge at the appalling sloppiness of the thinking.
In the bluntest terms; all cannot excel! Because if everyone is doing it, it is not ‘excellence’, it is ‘average’.  Now, there is nothing wrong with below average schools aiming to do tomorrow what those deemed to be ‘excellent’ do today, provided that it is applicable to the context of the school and children in question.  But it places an awful burden on those few deemed to be ‘excellent’ to continue to stride ahead and find the solutions for next year and the year after that.
 Better that schools set their sights on becoming their own sort of brilliant - educating radiant children, rather than trying to shoehorn themselves into someone else’s models. Doing this creates multiple future models from which we can all pick,  chose, amalgamate and improve upon.
Interviewing someone for a headship on the basis of a candidate “knowing what ‘outstanding’ looks like” is naive to the point of being almost funny, if it weren’t so tragic.

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