“Why should we put up with a school content to let a child sit at the back of the class, swapping Facebook updates? Or on where pupils and staff count down the hours to the end of term without ever asking why B grades can’t be turned into A’s?” … Why indeed, David? Why indeed?
In a week in which our leader, Mr. Cameron, has pointed his finger, not at the usual suspects, but at ‘coasting’ schools – those schools ‘satisfied with only half of children getting five good GCSE’s’ – and plans to ‘shame’ them into submission, what are we, the public, supposed to make of it all?
Superficially, the figures support Mr. Cameron’s call to arms, and one would be hard pushed to deny that there is a need for action. Last year, nationally, 41.2% of students failed to achieve the all important A*- C grade in mathematics (considered a ‘core’ subject by government and employers alike). Whilst this does translate as well-over 50% of students managing to attain a ‘C’ grade or above, Mr. Cameron is right to acknowledge that not enough is being done to address the problem of the remaining percentage, at risk of ‘falling through the cracks’ – a veritable 318,453 students who are not achieving their potential. But is ‘shaming’ schools an appropriate response to the situation?
There exists a confusing disparity between government’s call to action, and the action of the government. Of course, there are many actions that could be taken (Mr. Cameron’s tame ‘shame’ campaign being one of them), but an extra option for consideration is a greater incorporation of technology into the way in which we learn.
Mr. Cameron’s Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has for months been bemoaning our country’s poor performance in education, and our failure to compete with the top PISA ranked countries. (BBC News: 07/12/10) The fact of the matter is that Britain is simply being left behind by schools in Shanghai, Hong Kong and South Korea.
One of the differences that sets China and South Korea’s schools apart from their British counterparts is their departure from traditional pedagogical methods, and embracing of new technology and its potential to help students achieve the top grades. For example, South Korea has in action a plan to switch entirely to digital textbooks, replacing all paper with computers (BBC News: 19/10/11). It reports success from its various forays into classroom technology, and this (alongside their other strategem) translates into a far superior PISA ranking. One would think that the secretary would jump on board the technology bandwagon in earnest, and to the benefit of Britain’s students. Interestingly, not.
Following the ‘ed-tech’ trend, a small number of Britain’s schools have already invested huge amounts of their budget in incorporating tablet computers, or smart phones, into the classroom – promoting learning via mediums that are inherently instinctive and natural to young students. Yet despite these schools reporting a ‘positive impact’ the government simply ‘doesn’t seem that interested’ (The Guardian: 30/10/11).
If there is an apparent reluctance towards action in the vaulted halls of government, where ministers are quick to cry, but cautious of investment, then it is inevitably for economic reasons beyond their control. Of course they would like to provide the very best in pioneering education technology, even if they can not. Help is nevertheless on hand.
iTutorMaths is a maths tuition organization, which embraces the technological age. It offers group learning aimed specifically at improving students grades, be it from E-C or A-A*, by taking advantage of the terrain that today’s youth are native to – the internet. From the comfort of home, students can log in and enjoy interactive sessions led by expert teachers that will help them to overcome the barriers that may have impeded them in the classroom. It offers a glimpse into the future of learning, the future of success, and it is available today.
In short, David, no, we should not have to put up with a school that is content to let a child ‘coast’ to C’s or B’s rather than the A’s they deserve. But if government can not take every action necessary to remedy this, there are those, like iTutorMaths, who can, and want to.