A group of early years practitioners and health experts...
- Education Professionals
Tweeting headteachers plan to reform education
The saga of this summer's GCSE results provoked a torrent of online comment and communication among teachers and heads. Now one group – mostly secondary headteachers – has come together via the social networking site Twitter to form an embryonic pressure group. In their sights they have the shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg.
Their schools may be poles apart in terms of geography and social context, but they are united in their view that an alternative to current education policy is needed fast, and that Labour is the best hope of achieving it.
The heads, from a mixture of maintained and academy schools, cite the focus on disadvantaged pupils and the release of data as being the most positive developments. But the positives risk being undermined by too much political interference in curriculum and qualifications, an accountability system focused on an ever narrower range of exams, a continuing divide between vocational and academic qualifications and moves towards a norm-referenced qualifications system in which only fixed numbers of students can achieve certain grades.
Proposed changes to GCSEs were described as "an inadequate preparation for 21st-century life" that will only fuel what Vic Goddard, headteacher of Passmores academy in Essex, described as a growing tension between "doing what is right for our school and for our children. What we have to do isn't always the same as what we need to do. We want an acceptance that education is about more than five exams. It is about the full journey and everything else that comes with it."
These individuals could be described as being part of what is now called the "magic middle" in social media. Not celebrities or the political commentariat, but trusted, persuasive experts with years of experience who blog and tweet and have the power to mobilise opinion. In other fields, businesses are trying to woo such people.
A spokesperson for Stephen Twigg said he would be willing to meet the group's members and described their ideas as "interesting". Some, including regional versions of Ofsted, reform of assessment and the 14-19 curriculum, were already being considered by Labour's policy review, he said, adding "we agree there shouldn't be an artificial cap on aspiration".