Whose standards? What disadvantages?
A relevant question for 2018!
Standards are important. However, if we wish to raise standards in education we need to know what standard we are looking to raise and who should be responsible for raising them.
What is clear is that our current definition of standards and our desire to raise ‘them’ is not having a positive impact on those children we might label ‘disadvantaged’. Notably some academics have assessed that concepts such as ‘creativity and understanding’ sit outside of our current focus on standards in schools.
Encouragingly Ofsted are now focusing on the richness of the curriculum as they react to findings that the curriculum is narrowed for ‘disadvantaged’ children.
Sticking with the current system reflects, in the words of Professor Diane Reay that ‘England does not have an education system that is serious about realising the potential of all children…’ indeed she goes on to highlight the issues that children who carry a label of disadvantage face – click here for more.
It is, therefore, time to go beyond the targeted use of terms like ‘disadvantage’ and to think about a more generalised language around ‘disadvantages’. For, in much of the work we are developing at the moment the focus is on recognising that we all face challenges in our learning, no matter who we are. Yes some children will face greater learning ‘disadvantages’ but by making disadvantages a term we all openly discuss in the classroom it removes a stigma and increases the opportunity for the practical search for learning strategies that can make a difference to the individual’s identity as a learner, a difference that can result in the individual increasingly taking control of raising standards for themselves!
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