Tag Archives: independence

Parental strike against school testing – hint, intimation, or flash in the pan?

Straw in the wind?  Harbinger? Hint or intimation? Dunno.

Snowball in hell? Impossible odds? Flash in the pan? Dunno.

Still, worth noting that at the time of writing 24,412 parents (or people claiming to be parents) have signed an online petition supporting a strike – yes, worth reading that again: a STRIKE – that will keep some kids out of school for a day in protest against SATs testing at an early age.

Worth noting, too, is the parental plea – or do I mean ‘demand’?

‘ We want our kids to be kids again and enjoy learning for learning’s sake not for Ofsted results or league table figures. Bring back the creativity and the fun – say goodbye to repetition and boredom!’

‘Learning for its own sake’ .  There, in the second paragraph. Unadorned and unashamed.

A Headteacher writing in support of the strike, eloquently sets out the damaging consequences of high stakes testing.   The letter ends apologising for not signing the letter, or giving the name of the school ‘because I’m afraid of repercussions’.

Not to be pursued in this short blog, but there is a wider issue here, and that is the contraction of the public space available for independent thought and action.  Areas other than education should perhaps reflect on this.

Parents refusing to send their child to school without good reason – a strike is not likely to be seen as a good reason – lay themselves open to a daily fine of £60.00 rising to £120.00 a day if not paid within 21 days.  The price of independent action?

As to the evidence that might support the value of independence, there is none. It is not susceptible to the sort of evidence that is purportedly considered persuasive.  The Good Ship Independence must proceed under its own power, aided of course by a fair wind. But then, one can also make one’s own weather.

You may wish to sign the petition.

Play England: Whither goest thou?

The newly minted independent  Play England is to have its first AGM on the 28 November. It’s potentially a significant event, and that alone justifies sharing some thoughts.

But first, congratulations and thanks to the current Play England trustees are in order.  I have the sense that negotiating the decoupling of Play England from NCB has, for the trustees, been a long, often arduous, time consuming – voluntary time freely given – not always easy process.  But, through their endeavours, an independent Play England has now been bequeathed us. ‘Us’,  Play England’s members.  So, thanks to the trustees for staying with this, for seeing it through.

Independent

It is not the intention of this piece to veer overly towards philosophical ruminations, but there is a distinction worth making and it is this.  True, PE is now formally an independent, self-governing body. But ‘independence’ carries greater meaning than simply a formal designation of legal status.  In the sense Continue reading

Holding fast: It’s not the evidence that does it

It is not a minor matter that those of us at the forefront of thinking about, developing, and promoting risk-benefit assessment have been particularly attentive to language, to the meaning of words and the order in which they are placed.  Thus we have taken HAZARD’s hand, twirled it round a bit, and shown its positive, sunny side.  Similarly, we have suggested to CONTROL MEASURES that it should stand in the corner, reflect upon its past errors,  and not rejoin us until it has developed a more sophisticated, nuanced approach to its purposes.  And we have welcomed, and made permanent guest of honour, BENEFITS.  She sits at the head of the table, gets served first and, so to speak, frames the rest of the proceedings.

This is not about risk-benefit assessment

But this piece is not about risk-benefit assessment.  It’s about the importance of saying certain things, of not losing one’s voice, of holding fast to key ideas and values, even when they seem to have no immediate purchase.

The evidential hunt

I make no complaint that once again ‘play’ is on the evidential hunt, apparently to demonstrate to Government just how functional it is in helping to meet the objectives of, for example, improving school performance, enlivening the public realm, contributing to community safety, countering ‘anti-social behaviour’ (in quotes because it is a despicable too wide-ranging term that should be avoided), and preparing children to be economically productive when they enter adulthood.  And no doubt much else.

As I’ve mentioned before, such evidence that is adduced will not persuade Government one way or the other.  Though it may say it has been persuaded, and we may wish to believe it. Continue reading

An independent voluntary sector: the long goodbye?

Independence of spirit begets independence of mind.  Kill or constrict that spirit, then voice and action become stilted or stilled.   Individuals, replete with verve and spirit succumb, or feel required to succumb, to institutional anaemia, one symptom of which is the valorisation of ‘pragmatism’ as the overarching, but unspoken,  organisational value.

Pragmatism tends to be self-justifying. By its nature it lends itself to assessing each move or settlement as the only one ‘practically’ available. ‘We are where we are’ and where we are is here, a place not so much of our making, but a nifty accommodation with what we thought was possible.  What was thought possible was already discounted goods because where pragmatism reigns supreme, other reference points are paled-out and diminished. Continue reading