Relying on habit or official pronouncements isn't enough. A greater focus on what evidence tells us about effective teaching and learning will enable teachers to help every child achieve the highest possible standard in all aspects of their education. Where assessment and standards are concerned we need a wider practical repertoire and a more sophisticated vocabulary.
We must devise approaches that enhance learning as well as test it, that support the curriculum rather than distort it, and that pursue high standards in all areas of learning, not just the core subjects. It's no longer acceptable that tests at a moment in time and in a narrow spectrum of learning are treated as measures of a child's entire educational attainment or of everything that schools aim to provide. Tests have their place, but both assessment and accountability should be about much more than test results. Britain has immense demographic, economic, cultural and linguistic diversity, which creates a vast array of educational circumstances and needs.
The best of our schools don't just work closely with their local communities but make the curriculum responsive to local needs and opportunities and live the very idea of community in their everyday work and relationships. As recent events have shown, policymakers tend to be interested only in evidence that fits their ideology or prejudice, and they may ignore or even abuse those who provide evidence that doesn't fit the political bill.
Deep and lasting improvements in our education system will be achieved only when policymakers are even-handed rather than selective in their use of evidence and when they speak about education in a way that exemplifies the educated mind rather than demeans it. What do you think of these priorities? Share what you would change about primary education with us below. A primary teacher turned researcher and writer, he initiated the Cambridge Primary Review in and directed it from to Below, Robin Alexander describes his ideas. Help schools tackle educational disadvantage and close the attainment gap.
Give children a real say in their learning. Primary education should not just be about preparing children for secondary school. Make 'breadth and balance' more than a slogan. This level of learning and continuous development ensures Finland's educators are steeped in the science of teaching — ironically, drawing inspiration from the American pedagogy of yesteryear.
Nor are schools left entirely to their own devices. The Finnish National Agency for Education promotes self-evaluation and improvement for both schools and their teachers. In terms of basic education, it's true that Finland does not use national standardized tests; however, they do implement national evaluations of learning outcomes.
However, Finland's evaluations are sample-based, not comprehensive. They are also not tied to school funding nor used to rank schools. Instead, the evaluation looks to assess the school's qualifications and are then provided to the administrators for developmental purposes. Oh, did we mention that school meals are free to all children? And that guidance and counseling are built in as part of the curriculum?
Because they are. Finnish students in Helsinki. After basic education, your child can choose to continue to upper-secondary education.
While not compulsory, 90 percent of students start upper-secondary studies immediately after basic. Because of Finland's devotion to no dead ends, the other 10 percent can choose to return to their education later at no cost. Upper secondary is split into two main paths, general and vocational, and both take about three years.
General education takes the form of course work, but students have a lot of freedom to decide their study schedules. At the end of general, students take the national matriculation exam, Finland's only standardized test. Their scores are used as part of their college applications. Vocational education is more job focused and incorporates apprenticeships as well as school learning. About 40 percent of students start vocational education after basic. This path ends with competence-based qualifications after the student completes an individual study plan.
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It's worth noting that students aren't locked into these paths. As part of Finland's devotion to education and decision-making, the two are permeable so students can discover new interests or create a path that threads between the two. University of Oulu's Pegasus Library in Linnanmaa. Image source: Wikimedia Commons. With your child exceling in upper secondary, you're probably worrying that your child's nest egg may not be sufficient for higher education.
Not to worry. Higher education, like basic and upper secondary, is free. Remember, equal access to education is a constitutional right in Finland. Students are only required to pay for books, transportation, and other school supplies — and student financial aid is readily available. Finnish colleges are divided into two types: universities and universities of applied sciences. Universities focus on scientific research, while universities of applied sciences emphasize practical applications.
When compared to leading-edge systems, Australian accountability systems are lacking in judgements on teaching practice in individual classrooms, and the use of sophisticated measures of learning and value-added analysis. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
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Original Paper First Online: 20 March This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Increasing accountability of private schools. Melbourne: AEU. Google Scholar. Auditor-General NSW School annual reports.
Society, Schools and Progress in Australia by P. H. Partridge (1968, Hardcover)
Department of Education and Training Victoria Diagnostic school review information pack. School excellence: Improvement and achievement in ACT government schools in Canberra: Department of Education and Training. A new relationship with schools. Elmore, R.
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Knowing the right thing to do: School improvement and performance-based accountability. Accessed February 2, from www. Elmore R. Accountable leadership. The Educational Forum 69 2 : — Google Scholar. Giles, C.