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I read the TES Education Commission Report and this is what I say...

I read the TES Education Commission Report this morning. The main reason I read it was because of the headline generator contained within it, that you've probably seen, with some variety of 'kids come to school not knowing how to pronounce their own names.'

It's one paragraph in the whole thing and a shame that will be a huge focus. But if it gets people to look at the report, as it did me, great. Educators won't find the above surprising, every experienced teacher will have dozens of stories of this type.

The report discusses 10 areas in our education system/setup and for an experienced leader, you'll look at this and think 'yep, that is pretty much where we are'.

For a teacher, it's likely you'll think 'ah, this cements a lot that reading 20 books would have done for me'. But for parents and wider society, it'll likely be quite eye-opening.

Good to have lots of great pockets of practice highlighted. But as with all such well-meaning items, the question is 'what do we now, together to solve and action some of these points?' - schools, government, parents, students and wider society.

One part that really resonated with me is the following:

'There is also a scientific case for looking again at the way children are assessed. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, professor of psychology and cognitive neuroscience at Cambridge University and a member of the commission, argued that the exam system was failing to capitalise on the potential of the teenage brain or take account of the latest developments in neuroscience.

"GCSEs were brought in in the late Eighties when we knew nothing about how the adolescent brain and cognition develop. Back then we assumed that the human brain stops developing in childhood. We now know, from research in the last 25 years, that that’s absolutely not the case and, in fact, the human brain undergoes really substantial and protracted development right throughout childhood, and also throughout adolescence and even into the 20s. Adolescence is a time of profound change, not just in terms of the brain, but also in terms of cognitive abilities like decision-making and planning and self-awareness, and also creativity.”

Very pertinent point: to have an education system that doesn't fully capitalise on what we now know about the brain is offering a disservice to the communities we educate.

Of course, GCSEs have changed, but a curriculum based on, or at least with this in mind, for the development of teenagers rather than an exams system filtered down from university sorting from the 1700s is a much better outlook and one that may reap plenty of reward with minimal cost.


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