To John Senior Esq, the RTZ Group

Re: Education 2000

 

I hope the following briefing note will be useful to you and your colleagues.

1. Education 2000 is concerned to find the best ways of building, in the vast majority of young people, a confidence in their ability to learn and an understanding that learning has to become a life-long activity for which they will have to take personal responsibility.

2. The Trust believes that the “Crisis in our Schools” is fast becoming an international phenomenon, though national cultural conditions affect its extent; the problems in American schools show remarkable similarities to the United Kingdom, as do those in Australia. Just as Britain led the way into the Industrial Revolution, and at a comparatively late stage replaced the predominant apprenticeship model of learning by compulsory formal institutional learning as late as 1870, so as we move further from a predominantly industrial economy so the arrangements for learning, and the formal institutions to support this, need to be re­appraised earlier in the United Kingdom than they do in other countries.

3. With the emphasis in schools having shifted away from simply equipping the majority of young people with a range of basic social and intellectual skills, towards demand that they should be supported with a range of higher order skills that enable the individual to deal with situations of increasing complexity (often requiring a major relearning of skills several times over a working life) so schooling has to focus on the empowerment of pupils “to learn for themselves”.

4. Education 2000 believes that, to do this adequately, a new “model of learning” has to be created by fusing three elements, often scan as being disparate.

(i) The Pedagogy of Formal Schooling, which has already undergone considerable change through programmes arising from Plowden to TVE1, some of which are firmly incorporated in the National Curriculum, has to be encouraged to develop further to focus on getting children such masters of their own learning so that, by the time they leave school, they are already well practiced in supporting and managing their own learning.

(ii) The opportunities for informal, non institutional learning within the community have to be exploited; the community, and the individuals within it, have to become “the Working laboratory” in which young people are constantly developing the social, intellectual and practical skills ready to join it as full participating members on leaving school. (A new form of Cognitive Apprenticeship). The community has to be helped to appreciate that it, too, has to become a “body of learners” – a genuine learning community – if it is to ensure its survival.

(iii) The new technologies of communication and technology have to be developed to become real tools lo support learning and their capability to support programmes that enable every learner to move at his/her own pace and on materials particularly appropriate to themselves, have to be fully exploited.

5. Education 2000 believes that if a way could be found of fusing these elements together and, on an intensive basis over a period of say 5 years, nurture a whole community to engage in “whole systems change” that it may well be possible to make an exponential leap into an altogether more productive education system.

6. To date, Education 2000’s work in the United Kingdom, and its observation of programmes and research overseas, would suggest that the “unit of change” has to be something considerably smaller than an LEA, but larger than a single school; essentially a self-contained “place” with a strong sense of self identity where people can say

“This is our community. Our place. These are our solutions to our problems. We are proud of our achievements, and we will invest in our future. We expect success, we shall not accept failure and we will all work together actively to educate young people in our community, in school and out.”

7. Education 2000 is aware that its ideas challenge the normal structures through which education is delivered, and by which decisions are made. It makes no apology for this. Indeed it accepts that the pattern of successful innovation requires that new ideas have to challenge the existing frameworks, and the Trust is therefore working at several levels to will support for this programme from a number of Government Departments, and from the private sector. Ideally the Trust would welcome an equal partnership between Government and private sector sponsors, working under some form of consortium with cross-Party support.

To maintain the impetus of these ideas until this can be achieved, the Trust is proceeding on its own programme by seeking funds of some £2 million per annum to finance key aspects of this work which could then form the foundation for a larger national programme.

8. The Education 2000 Trust was formed originally in 1982 just after the Finniston Report. In 1983 it published (C.U.P.) “Hypotheses for Education in ED2000“. 111 April 1991 it was reconstituted giving it a Council of some 30 to 40 members and a smaller Management Committee. Its President is Lord Joseph, and its Chairman is Sir Brian Corby; amongst Members of its Council are people of eminence from industry, commerce, education and the community at large. The Trust is dependent on raising funds from sponsors to undertake its Projects.

9. The Trust’s own programme Projects to test these ideas started with Letchworth in 1986. In 1989 local sponsors took responsibility for a Project in Ipswich. The Trust’s own extension programme started in 19990 with two Inner City Projects, Coventry and Leeds, and two Metropolitan Boroughs Bury and Calderdale. Three other Projects are in the course of development – Loughborough, Swindon and Tríng.

 

AJA

December 1991