The ‘Real’ David Cameron on education in Scotland and how to improve assessment through trust  26168


  • 05:40 Paul Dix: Uniqueness of Scottish education? David Cameron: As much good practice in both. More in common.
  • 07:00 Aspires to elements of Finland. Aspires to co-creationist model. And aspects of USA. Different from England in remaining unified and LA role. Much less parental choice.
  • 08:00 Curriculum. A lot of books shared, a lot of science looking the same. More prescriptive in England. More ‘rigorous’ assessment, not in entirely complimentary sense. Testing coming in in Scotland. A retrograde step. Bullock report from 1970s: if all teachers were sufficiently skilled in internal assessment, no need for standardised tests. We’ve invested more in standardised assessments of various types than developing teacher skills.
  • 10:00 Do we need democratic accountability, given so much money is spent. Leadership is different question. Leadership needs to recognise quality and professionalism of those they’re leading. Allow exercise of strengths rather than enforce compliance.
  • 11:20 DC was chair of York Education Partnership. PD: what does it teach us about partnership / collaboration? DC: individual excellence in schools not enough. Society is porous / crossover (e.g. Orlando shooting). System based on isolated schools doesn’t do that. ‘Spirit Level’ and other work: inequality is very damaging – illness and other poverty problems. Commitment to equality of opportunity / equity. Excelllence / deil tak the hindmost to be avoided. MATs, LAs or school-based collaborations isn’t important. York showed that schools could put budget behind it as well as partnership: one school with many campuses.
  • 14:15 ED: What does true collaboration look like? DC: Willingness to invest in partnership. Money put into successful schools to assist them in helping others: use teachers in other schools, space in timetables, high-level collaboration. But could go down to level of TeachMeets (simple sharing of practice), sharing resources, creating of web-based planning with responsibility for taking forward other teachers’ planning not just exploiting it.
  • 16:15 ED: Interrupting cycle of poverty. DC: Moved towards raising attainment initiative. Makes schools shock troops of social mobility and social change. But schools can’t make all the difference for the most challenged communities and most challenged within them. Spoke to Dave Whittaker in special school in Barnsley: going above and beyond, but frustrated that progress made within school is dissipated within community.
  • 17:45 Loss of learning over summer holidays, more so with poorer children. Education needs to be part of community regeneration. Stirling: focus on Raploch and complete programme of regeneration also affecting housing and services, and arts and creativity (El Sistema). Children wanted to read because they wanted to read music.
  • 20:40 Advancing attainment of young people is likely to take them out of those communities; the community shrinks and doesn’t benefit – cycle of poverty continues.
  • 21:00 At start of career, was facing material poverty: two parents at parents’ night who were concerned, ambitious, caring. Now increasingly complex poverty: of aspiration, substance/alcohol abuse, family breakdown. Schools cannot simply educate pupils out of these: not defeatism, but realism. More than better phonics and a more rigorous curriculum required.
  • 22:10 PD: Time to move away from 5-6 week summer holiday. DC: yes. Also demands of colleagues working in school. They need time during working week and holidays. Think more clearly and coherently around what constitutes support for pupils. Model is of teaching often, not learning. Children’s University. Dave Whittaker (above) runs summer school from own budget to maintain continuity. Often enriching experience and different cultural contexts, going outdoors.
  • 24:10 On one of first teaching practices in Edinburgh, talked to them on assumption they had all been to Castle. Many not even been to Princes Street.
  • 24:40 PD: Trip to Wales. Student “I didn’t know my eyes could see that far.” DC: Not enough opportunities to look up / look out. “Raising Attainment will come through overcoming the static friction of disadvantage rather than some of the kinetic friction which children have to overcome through the process of learning.” If we can get children to engage, we can help them to learn better. Static friction is that we can’t assume that engagement. Aspiration. Life beyond what they see immediately around them. Not only for themselves, but also for those around them. Only comes from breadth of experience. Can be virtual: tech, books, storytelling, science etc. But must do it.
  • Focus on Attainment goes into effort on getting children over hurdles without any concern as to how well they might complete the race. Enrichment + Allow teachers to revel in their enthusiasm.
  • 27:00 ED: Balance pupil wellbeing with teacher wellbeing. They come into teaching for the reasons just mentioned, but forced into a corner by focus on attainment. Many put in additional time to make sure those pupils get those experiences?
  • 28:00 DC: Good tired v bad tired. Good: feeling from the end of a marathon. Fulfilling. Bad: from effort and frustration, engagement in activity that doesn’t generate meaningful outcome for teacher or child. Often because of poorly conceived assessment / accountability and the need to record. As well as inadequate funding.
  • 29:20 Was working with Hywel Roberts in Aberdeen (banter about suits). Thought they might have used some of techniques / approaches modelled; even better spoke directly to attainment / achievement / outcomes. But inadequate supply cover was a barrier to many more teachers who would like to have come.
  • 31:25 “These teachers had put in work and gained energy … the more these people worked, the more enthusiastic they became.”
  • 32:00 Use breakable plates: spinning so many, some are bound to drop. Use IKEA not Wedgewood. If doing Greek wedding, don’t regret the crockery we’ve smashed. Let’s be clear about what matters, and what makes the difference. Starting from practice and working towards data rather than from data to practice.
  • Talking about book with Brighouse and Donaldson. Lessons from a Small Island. How we can draw lessons from systems across UK that are similar. We’re not going to get success from importing Finnish education unless we import their social system too. Ditto Chinese teachers.
  • 35:30 PD: Best thing you’ve learned from children? DC: Be seen, loved and recognised. Gladwell and Karl Jung on caring. Black Eyed Peas: Where is the Love? Need to invest in the child.
  • 38:20 Tweet of the week: @janeh271. Photo of entire audience at Northern Rocks.
  • 42:00 New offer of doing whole Pivotal CPD Train-the-trainers Curriculum in one week.


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            [0] => Kevin Mulryne*host|Paul Dix*co-host|David Cameron*guest|Ellie Dix*co-host