Tuesday, May 18

Enough of the ‘lost generation’. Instead, let’s reinvent the school for our children | Children

Hhumans are wired to tell stories. A compelling story can be a comfort or an inspiration; raising our gaze, stirring our emotions. So when the kids go back to school tomorrow, they deserve a better story than the one told under the big, fat, shady title “lost generation.”

This is not a lost generation. A rude label that is probably a self-fulfilling prophecy. The students we serve in underprivileged London, and thousands like them across the country, are not lost. Frustrated, yes. Boring, yes. Many still live in poverty, yes. In some cases, traumatized and in need of specialized support. But not lost. They have lost some learning, but this has not made them incapable, permanently behind, or unable to lead a productive life.

Children are resilient and become more resilient if they are treated with respect, listened to, and given the opportunity to use their imaginations, make connections, and find their feet. If we tell a better story and back it up with the right approach: strategic, financial (more for those most in need), and practical, then our children will be the “recovered generation.” We will celebrate their ingenuity in the face of multiple challenges, the new things they have learned about themselves, and the new skills they have acquired.

We will remember how some young people reconnected and cared about family members, becoming more resourceful in the process. Fourteen-year-old Ahmed describes, for example, how dealing with his mother’s Covid-19 and the difficulties of confinement have made him a better problem solver, more organized, and more determined to work hard at school. That’s just from one of the many cool blogs on Big Education. learn from blocking website, which draw some of the positive lessons from this difficult period.

Long before the first worksheet or benchmark is rolled out when we return to school, we must introduce a precious ingredient to the heart of every classroom: talking. A classroom filled with the social and emotional power of the spoken word. By allowing young people to speak and, of course, listen to each other, we will understand what they have been through and be able to measure their sense of well-being. Then we can tailor our responses to each child. It is through conversation that they will reconnect with their friends and re-focus.

Promoting speaking skills in young people is more necessary than ever (see, for example, Voice 21, a national charity that I helped establish). It’s also why the sophisticated work that many schools have been doing on student wellness is so important in ensuring that children can continue to learn effectively despite all the turmoil.

The “Lost Generation” is simply the doom-laden trailer of a long-running series titled “Keep Your Head Down and Pass Your Exams.” The narrative is clear, you don’t need the whole box to understand the gist. It goes like this: school can be a bit boring and exhausting, you will spend the last four years under the cloud of uninterrupted crowding and practice for high-stakes exams; Emphasis will be placed on limited subject knowledge and being able to follow the clumsy format of each exam question to obtain grades. The goal is to go to a Russell Group university; work once there to get a 2: 1 grade, then come out the other side and you’re done for life.

Only there is a twist. Employers are no longer satisfied with 2: 1. Increasingly, they conduct their own strengths-based assessments and are not predominantly seeking academic qualifications. Test scores are no longer seen as a representation of what is needed not only in the workplace but also in life. It is agility, initiative, curiosity, problem solving, collaboration, emotional intelligence that matter the most. With exams canceled for the second year, now is the time to rethink the assessment. And we are seizing the moment.

Together with a growing coalition of state and independent schools, universities and businesses, parents and academics, we have come together to form Rethink the evaluation, a group that is looking for possible solutions so that we really recognize the strengths of each child, in all domains; head, heart and hand. By unlocking a better exam system, away from the heartache of relying solely on written exams (30 in a month at GCSE level), we will unlock a broader curriculum and a more satisfying school experience.

That should be the starting point for a new story that requires a new plot and a cast of characters who are on a mission.

The key to this is our school leaders, who have done an extraordinary job in the last year and many of whom have thought more deeply than ever about what they value most and what an expansive vision of education might look like. Therefore, talk of “recovery” should turn quickly to talk about how we “reimagine” school: a broader curriculum, a skillful use of technology, a greater focus on well-being, and creativity at the heart of the school. school life. Cohorts of leaders and aspiring leaders are joining our Great leadership adventure program, to develop the tools and ideas for this renovation.

The other characters are, of course, our children, who should no longer be part of an exam carousel. As the nation’s front doors open wide in the coming weeks and people return to the streets and to pubs and football stadiums, we must think about our children and what we really want for them. . Each child can and should become the author of their own story.

To achieve this, we need this to be a period of leapfrogging, not just catching up. We need to take advantage of the experience of young people during the confinement; the courage they have shown and helping them become powerful learners. A generation that recovers with fighting spirit, technical knowledge and endurance, prepared not only for the next exam, but to thrive and make their mark in the post-Covid world.


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