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Author: Bridget Knight, CEO: Values-based Education International


The recently-announced intentions of OFSTED, to focus on learning and to disregard year-by-year in-school pupil tracking and assessment may momentarily lift the spirit of the care-worn teacher. But is this followed only moments later by a cold realisation that the demands of end of key stage results will be just as great, only differently wrapped?


‘It’s good enough for OFSTED, but…’


“Let’s face it, the days, the weeks, just aren’t long enough to do everything we need to do. I need to get in my assessments to my headteacher before the end of tomorrow and I haven’t finished teaching the full curriculum for this term - so, I’m going to have to take a short cut. ‘Quick, everybody. This is what a subsidiary clause is – now can everybody put one in their story: now!’”


An exaggeration, of course but how many of us have been compelled to take short-cuts in our teaching, at the expense – perhaps – of deeply embedded learning?


We do it because we have to conform to rigid and demanding requirements imposed on us because if our children don’t ‘pass’ the tests we will be judged to be failing them. And because we could lose our jobs, and we frankly can’t afford that.


In the drive to achieve result-related success, efficiency is prized above all else. Above the acquaintance with, for example, a broad canon of fabulous children’s literature. Or of establishing a real connection with a range of art forms, inspired by some of the world’s greatest creative thinkers. Maybe they will get to know them later – when they’re older and no longer need to be at school – we hope in a distracted moment. For now, we have more pressing matters at hand.


And here is our contention: ‘real’ teachers, motivated by an understanding and appreciation of what constitutes and results from great teaching and learning, feel nonetheless compelled to teach very differently.


So where do we go from here?


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