Tuesday, 23 April 2013

More of the same?

I have no argument with the statement by Michael Gove that the length of the school day and the timing and duration of school holidays, both of which were set at a time when agriculture was rather more central to the economy than it is now, should be up for consideration.
Nor do I disagree with his observation that some of the Asian countries with longer school days and terms are outperforming the UK significantly and consistently when it comes to educational attainment.
I’m not convinced, however, that drawing a straight line from those statements to his conclusion that the school day should be longer and holidays shorter is justified by hard evidence.  There’s a parallel of sorts with the Welsh Lib Dems’ continually banging on about spending as much per head on average in Wales as they do in England – it’s about grabbing hold of a simple solution without really understanding whether that solution actually addresses the problem.
I have seen no evidence that the real problem with education in the UK is simply that pupils don’t spend enough time in the classroom; and if that’s unproven, then merely increasing the amount of time that they do spend in the classroom is missing the point.  If, for instance, the problem is more to do with the nature of the educational experience itself, then it has to be at least possible that increasing the exposure to it will have no effect - and conceivably even have a net detrimental effect.  More of the wrong thing isn’t necessarily better for anyone.
Personally, I suspect that the difference has more to do with attitude towards education; the fact that some countries have both longer hours and better results could easily be down to that.  And politicians tinkering with the curriculum and the length of the school day does anything to address that underlying attitude problem.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hugh Jordan

I think a study visit to Finland would do the world of good.

However, I get the impression that Mr Gove has learned nothing since the day he left school.