Has Donaldson Failed Welsh Education - Socpie.uk

    Pasi Shalberg, the respected Finnish Educationalist, has referred to Pisa as a virus. The 2018 Pisa results illustrated that Michael Gove's attempts to radically reform the English educational system to become a top ranking Pisa  was not achieved. There has now been a strong attack on the Scottish Government about its perceived unsatisfactory 2018 Pisa rankings, but there are concerns arising from the Scottish inspectorate about the quality of schooling in Scotland also.

          The Welsh Government, who is about to implement it's version of the Scottish "Curriculum for Excellence" has claimed it wants
 to create world class teaching standards, but this may not necessarily translate into world class levels of attainment. The two are not the same.  This is because the learning of potential of children is not equal and  socio-economic status remains the most reliable predictor of children's attainment across the world.

           There are increasing concerns that has arisen about the reliability of the Pisa assessments as has been argued on this website and on hgunn.uk. The Pisa results are essentially a lottery. Officially there is no separate Pisa score for Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or England. The recent Covid examinations fiasco illustrate that 'black box' alogrithms can have unknown anolomlies embedded in them.

           B.B.C. Scotland contends that the problem in Scotland is that the Scottish Government does not want to be an average Pisa country. The evidence is that education remains a political football in Scotland. Pisa estimated average scores are marked to 1,000th of a degree. A Pisa point. The variation of the Scottish results is 1%. 1 point out of 100. Some of wordings and political attacks about the Scottish Pisa results are more than ridicolous.

       John Sweeny Scottish Education Minister is now claiming he wants Scotland to reflect Finish education. Many countries, however, over the last decade have considered Finnish education. Pasi Shalberg explains that there are a whole range of reason why the Finish model cannot be transferred to other countries.

     Dylan Wiliam, who lectures on education across the world, has quoted  Pasi Salberg as claiming the reason why Finland's children do so well is that Finnish is a regular language to learn to read in and that the Finnish are avid readers.  English is an irregular language and one of the most difficult to learn in the world. This why around 10% of the population has dyslexia.

       Sue Garthercole of the Cambridge Institute of the Brain, which specialises on researching children' learning difficulties needs, has contended that there is no 'magic bullet' solution to resolving these children's learning difficulties. This is why politicians are constantly seeking to find to avoid the Pisa criticisms. There is no evidence it exists.

  Dylan Wiliam refers to a whole raft of government initiatives that have failed. The most remarkable is the primary numeracy and literacy hours. A vast amount of time and research went into the initiative. It was viewed as being a commendable initiative, but it had a very marginal impact upon improving standards. This raises the issue of what can be done next to address the issue of basic skill attainment.

Are the Grounds for Concern about the Scottish Curriculum.

         The "Curriculum for Excellence" promised to offer improving standards. It has not. This is no itself a reason for criticising the curriculum, but after ten years the curriculum should be achieving maturity. There is case for the Welsh Government to reconsider their proposed curriculum, before it is implemented.

 A key report in February 2020 established that few schools in Scotland were rated excellent on key measures (Seith, 2020). This is in a curriculum that was introduced in 2010. Gayle Gordon, head of inspection curriculum development Education Scotland is quoted as saying:-

         "Areas for improvement, said inspectors, included achieving consistently high-quality learning and teaching; continuing to improve the reliability and validity of teachers’ judgments about how well pupils were progressing; improving the monitoring and tracking of children’s and young people’s progress, skills and attainment over time; and the teaching of equality and diversity."

         In South Korean parents inspect the quality of teaching. There is no evidence that any teaching was taking place in the Seoul School that children from Pembrokeshire learnt in on the 2016 B.B.C. "School Swap: South Korean Style" program. Inspectors actually see teachers teaching and witness children's learning in the United Kingdom. Unlike Andreas Schliecher, who only refers to children's comments in Pisa surveys and statistics arising from the Pisa assessments,school inspectors have face to face financial interactions with children.

Curran () argues that Scottish Education, which was once the envy of the world, has been too progressive. He refers to the words being used to describe the 'Curriculum for Excellence' as ‘vague’, ‘lacking in clarity’ and ‘wishy washy'.  Hirsch (2018) refers to France and Sweden, who had excellent elementary systems, who wrecked their curriculum through giving schools too much autonomy. They were changing their system in a desire to create improvement.

       The child centred curriculum that Donaldson is recommended is not knew. It is the approach to learning advocated by the Plowdrn Report in 1967 for primary learning. It was what was attempted in the French and Swedish reforms. It was proven to be ineffective in primary education.

The Issues

1. There has been a history of countries changing their curriculum and standards, because of their dissatisfaction with their Pisa rankings. 
Michael Gove when he was English Education Minister, introduced his radical 'rigourous' reforms, because of the perceived poor English Pisa performance. There is still no evidence that standardz have or will change radically in England.

2. The problem with educational reform it that it takes over ten years to grow an education child. Promised reforms can promise a brighter future than the status quo, but the promised reform may not necessarily lead to improvements. 
The primary literarcy hours was a commenable researched intitiative , but it did not have an impact on schools standards. The evidence is the "Curriculum for Excellence" is struggling to deliver its promises.

3.  When curriculum reform is implemented, it will take teachers several years to become familiar with it and to identify  weaknesses in it. It not like commissioning a new electric train where faults can be identified and resolved relative quickly.

4. Evolution is better than revolutiom educationally. Gradual change develops from proven methods. The problem with the National Curriculum was that it related to a huge change in the curriculum and no attempt was made to gradually reform it. Children were simply being expected to attempt to absorb it and pass the summative assessments.

5. The Donaldson proposals for the Welsh Curriculum, which reflects the Scottish curriculum, is an extremely radical one. It must be accepted that the National Curriculum was overloaded but his proposals are based upon the child-centered philisopehy of education that posited by Plowden for primary education, which was proved failed to cater for children's learning needs.

6.  The 2010 Scottish "Curriculum of Excellence" has been developing since that time, but the fabric of research into education is changing and the research base into what is known is increasing about education.
Neil Thomas refers to educational fashion and that cognitive research should provide greater certainty.

7. Research from Professor Sweller, who is world authority on cognitive load, has established that children will learn more effectively through structured lessons than problem solving, because problem solving discovery learning increases working memory load.
 Dylan Wiliam supports this opinion through explaining that when children build a knowledge base, they will then be more prepared to solve problem solving to what they have learnt.

8. The abandoning of subject boundaries is contrived. The traditional subject boundaries relate to disctinct areas of human development and mixing them together blurs the relationship between them and retards the develop of each in sequence of presentation in the most meaingful subject sequences.

9. There is ever increasing evidence that high order skills, such as creative thinking, creativity and critical thinking are strongly related to working memory and intelligence.
The National Curriculum was intended to provide applied learning, problem solving approach to learn. It is easy to state high ideals for all children's learning, delivering them is a very different  issue.

10. There needs to be appropriate balance between a centrally controlled curriculum and giving total autonomy to schools.
There is evidence in England that the curriculum's becoming a window dressing initiative and that the core educational issues are not being adressed. Ofstead appears referring to claimed standard of the National Curriculum in their evaluation of school curriculums.