The Good Platitude

Amanda Spielman of Ofsted has of late made a number of platitudinous and therefore grating ironic observations about the damage done in schools when there is too much focus on exam ‘success’ and targets-chasing.

In a similar but significantly alternative way, there is an irony in the platitudinous correlation being sought for confirmation in research reported in Schools Week today by

…the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) announced five trials to test the impact of different “cultural learning strategies” as part of the ‘Learning about culture’ programme.

Surely this link is already well-documented and proven by both decades of external research and the overwhelming evidence of classroom manifestations, this latter by those who have bothered to practice and observe?

It is probably a part of the sub-headline which prompted my mild ire – new trials to assess whether skills like music, drama and journalism can boost their [children] achievements at primary school – because it seems to me the correlation between creative pursuits and learning in education is meant to be much broader than ‘achievements’ which are inextricably linked to testing regimes. Perhaps it is simply an inappropriate choice of words.

What I did like [though again there is no fundamental need to ‘prove’] is the observation about how developing the skills of teachers as writers is being linked to improving students’ writing,

‘The craft of writing’ will meanwhile investigate whether developing teachers’ skills as writers improves year 5 pupils’ motivation and confidence with writing. The project, developed jointly by Arvon, the University of Exeter and the Open University, will see teachers working with professional writers.

I have followed this work in blog postings from tutors and teachers, but this has also been glaringly obvious to me for many years: English teachers in particular need to be writers themselves to fully appreciate how students become writers.

Is that too bold a statement? No, it is another platitude as far as I am concerned. But a good one.



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