By Al McConville, Director of Learning and Innovation
Friend of Bedales and educational reformer, Professor Bill Lucas of Winchester University, gave a keynote speech to the Mercers’ Company in London about ‘the Future of Education’ on Monday, which I was privileged to attend.
Bedales was name-checked repeatedly as a key pioneer in the context of a pretty dreary and narrow educational landscape. Alongside School 21, collaborators of ours in the East End of London, Bedales was held up as the example of the sort of holistic, broad, practical education that more and more external agencies are clamouring for, from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) to the CBI (Confederation of British Industry).
GCSEs came under attack from the floor for their narrow assessment regime, which prize content over thinking; quantity over quality; Bill cited Harvard Professor Howard Gardner, who famously wrote that “the enemy of learning is coverage”. Over 1000 pages of textbook have to be imbibed and regurgitated for triple science GCSE, for example, which doesn’t leave much time for genuine scientific reflection.
I was able to feel both a certain satisfaction that we are so far ahead of the curve in delivering engaging, project-based, variably assessed curriculum in so many areas, alongside a renewed missionary zeal for helping other schools escape the shackles of the “high-stakes pub quiz” that is inflicted on so many young people, to use Magnus’s memorable expression for GCSEs.