Olympic Academy end of term address

Dear Parents, as term draws to a ragged end it’s time for reflection on the highs and lows of the year and on our education reforms and to look forward to the excellent examination achievements of our students later this summer. My labours...

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Dear Parents, as term draws to a ragged end it’s time for reflection on the highs and lows of the year and on our education reforms and to look forward to the excellent examination achievements of our students later this summer.

My labours here at Olympic Academy have indeed been Herculean as the Gods surely did not smile on us as we started the year. Not only did the Titan of Google ridicule our IT but cursed by Phoneme we dropped to 25th in the world for the ability to read, even the Americans read better and they haven’t used English for years! I was set the task of clearing our stables.

First to placate the Gods we made a sacrifice of GCSE ICT. More of a goat than a lamb to the slaughter it failed to appease and so it came to pass that GCSE itself was offered up. This may have done the trick as the fires are still burning.

As Michaelmas term drew to a close I made a pilgrimage to consult the Oracle at Santa Clara who prophesied that an Open Source future was just around the corner and there I met mad old Pythagoras who was promoting Pi as the solution to our school’s needs.

Cleansed, I resolved to make our academy the best in the world. We can be better than the Chinese, the Koreans, the Japanese and the Finns. We have way-more computers per-child than they do, we start school years earlier, we have oodles more exams and we have Interactive Whiteboards! Hah! Just because they have epicanthic folds and Linus … it means nothing. ... We will have Microsoft’s Mycenaean Tablets in every school!

So in conclusion dear parents, the future of the Olympic Academy is a bright one. My reforms have but a few more labours to complete. Wish me luck in particular in my quest for Home Secretary May’s girdle.

Have a happy summer and enjoy our sports day ... it will be an event to remember.

… oops apologies, I’ve muddled up copy for the Principal’s end of year editorial with this week’s blog; the reality as of course you know, is that we are off for six weeks with little to do especially as Mr Gove has abolished IT and for good measure trashed the value of a GCSE.

So I read some PISA stats to see if anyone else was having a good time too. PISA is important as it compares the education performance of a great many countries.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is run by the OECD and gives a measure of how well education is going in a country. Specifically it looks at maths, science and reading. The top ranking nationalities are consistently Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Finnish and the fastest upcoming nation is Poland.

We in the UK are sinking in the rankings hence the plethora of changes we are experiencing at the moment. For example we are 25 in the reading tables whereas Poland is now up to 14. But why? What are they doing right and we doing wrong?

I decided to look at a few indicators for these success stories so that I would be able to inform our Government what they should do. I started with; Primary School starting age, whether the education was heavily centralised or decentralised into communities (Local Government) and finally how much ICT featured in their education.

My findings were as follows:

  • Primary School starting Age: 6-7 years old (UK 4)
  • Degree of Centralisation: Chinese, Korean, Japanese - high; Finland, Poland - low (UK: medium high)
  • Use of ICT (compared to UK or USA) Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Finnish and Polish) Low.

I carried on through a few more nurture-related criteria with no more real success. I could find no comparative data on qualifications for teachers that indicated a place at the top table was inevitable. I even looked at use of Open Source software to see if that was a factor. Ok, China, Korea and Poland have their own Linux and Finland has Linus but I’m scratching around here.

It looks like all I have is a late starting age and a low obsession with IT. Each country has its own features of which they are proud; for example Poland is introducing free e-text books to its students and text books have been free in Finland for ever, Korean text books are forbidden to mention evolution and all of the top countries have fearsomely difficult written languages.

Pick the policy bones out of that…

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