Creating tomorrow’s schools today, Richard Gerver
Gerver, R. and Robinson, K. (2010). Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today: Education – Our Children – Their Futures. Network Educational Press.
Richard Gerver is former head teacher of Grange Primary School (Long Eaton). Credited with turning round a school of disaffected learners and teachers, the book outlines his philosophy in part one and describes the changes he made to the school in part two.
The key message from Gerver I took away was empowerment. Change has to be a part of school life, if staff and children don’t own new ideas they won’t succeed. Gerver is clearly skilled as a motivational speaker and writer, and has nurtured this enthusiasm in others by not tying them to locked down strategies implemented by senior management. It is when he is discussing the changes made to the school in part 2 of the book that this really comes across, and I would have liked even more detail on the changes and how they arose. It is clearly obvious to Gerver how to inspire this level of deep seated change in culture, he doesn’t quite articulate to those of us still struggling with effective institutional change.
Part 1: philosophy and what is wrong with education today
Argues that outcome and data driven education is ineffective, wants to see educational values that put the child at the centre. Advocates giving children a reason to want to learn, promotes failure, promotes the teaching of skills and learning how to learn as well as teaching knowledge (not knowledge as simple facts learnt without context or meaning but a complex set of contexts and information used to be able to critically appraise and enhance situations – see Rasmussen, 1983). Interestingly does not use the argument that facts are redundant when Google exists to provide answers to fact recall questions.
Part 2: how Grange School was transformed
Used a competency and skill based curriculum, based on combination of:
– the opening minds RSA curriculum 1999
– Somerset LA Curriculum planning for schools – national curriculum in skills terms
– principles of EYFS curriculum
Thematic approach, planning involved children. Whole school took theme on.
Cross class working – children paired up to share their work with peers from other classes.
Two other projects transformed the school:
1. Grangeton – town within the school. Training from community. Run by children, mayor and councillors trained by local MP, cafe in french, museum, media centre – radio, tv, newspapers. One afternoon a week but also through lunch/ breaks.
2. Grange University – two sessions a week, 6 week courses often run by parents/ community everything from share dealing to hairdressing. Provides children with real context learning plus enabling them to learn from people ‘in their element’ (Ken Robinson).
Further reading to explore:
Guy Claxton – evidence for learning to learn
Rasmussen, J. (1983). Knowledge signals, signs, and symbols and other distinctions in human performance models. IEEE Trans. Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, MSC-13, pages 257-267.http://www.citeulike.org/user/jobadge/article/9567916
All our futures (Ken Robinson report on creativity in schools) http://www.cypni.org.uk/downloads/alloutfutures.pdf
Robinson, K. (2009). THE ELEMENT : HOW FINDING YOUR PASSION CHANGES EVERYTHING. Penguin Books Ltd, uk first edition edition. http://www.citeulike.org/user/jobadge/article/4635052
Interviews with people leaders in heir field to find out what being in their element means to them
Good summary of the changes made: http://www2.futurelab.org.uk/projects/teachers-as-innovators/stories-of-practice/grangeton
Link to Grangeton, the town within a school that was created as the vehicle for change: http://www.grangeton.com/grangeton.html
Innovation unit – Dept of Ed unit to approve curricula outside the national curriculum. Over 90% applications would have fitted within the NC anyway- shows it is not as inflexible as people often believe. Now spun off as separate initiative independent of government http://www.innovationunit.org/our-story can advise on using the power to innovative piece of legislation which can allow suspension of NC and approval of alternatives. http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/schoolperformance/a0014624/power-to-innovate