Education Executive 18.09.09 – New survey reveals children’s vision for schools of the future

New survey reveals children’s vision for schools of the future
Over half of primary school children think that schools in the future will be totally different from today (51 per cent) according to a new survey released today by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). Today’s pupils believe that classrooms will eventually be accessed from anywhere in the world and lessons will link up with children in other countries via satellite.
Pupils think teaching and learning methods will look very different in the future, with half (52 per cent) envisaging downloadable lessons or lessons that they attend remotely via webcam being common place. Alongside professional teachers, forty four per cent think that pupils in the future will also be taught by specialists such as artists, writers or professional sports people; and over a third (37 per cent) think that pupils in the future will benefit from much more personalised teaching.

While some of these ideas may seem far-fetched, the TDA is already working on a number of related initiatives to improve outcomes for pupils. For instance, work is under way to ensure that every secondary school pupil in England will benefit from having a named personal tutor by this time next year. This will help deliver the more personalised learning and support today’s pupils expect to see in the future. Many schools are also developing and improving teaching and learning by linking up with schools in different countries, bringing external experts into classrooms and encouraging pupils to have an input in the design of their lessons.
Urging schools to think about how they can adapt to the changing world, Graham Holley, Chief Executive at the TDA said:
“It is interesting to see that primary and secondary pupils are anticipating new and innovative approaches to education for the future. They clearly value teachers who produce inspiring, high quality teaching and manage behaviour so that they and all of their classmates can learn. They are perceptive, and see these qualities as important for teaching in the future alongside the innovative use of technology and more personalised learning.
“Against this background, we are encouraging more schools to look strategically at how they use their whole school workforce to provide the best possible education for every child and young people now and in the future. The TDA’s resources are developed with schools to help and support them to do so.”
The TDA is urging schools across the country to learn from existing effective practice. One school, Aldeburgh Primary in Suffolk, has worked with a charity to provide lessons taught through art and gardening.
Linda Berry, headteacher at Aldeburgh Primary School in Suffolk said:
“We worked with a charity – EastFeast – to develop effective learning outside of the classroom to give them unique opportunities and experiences. We made the project the focus for all areas of the National Curriculum. As well as giving them the essential tools for learning, primary education is about children experiencing the joy of discovery, solving problems, being creative, developing their self confidence as learners and maturing socially and emotionally.”

Schooled children will often be ahead of a lot of teachers in their thinking about the future. At the same time they are also constrained by the current systems. There is a whole world of alternatives that mainstream continues to pay lip service to. Very successful traditions and new enterprises exist which could really give us a truly personalised educational landscape if allowed to develop. What is mainstream afraid of ? By permitting and supporting a widening landscape and freeing their command and control policies they may just find what they’ve been looking for. Even more importantly young learners will have their dignity returned and their ability to chart their own learning paths secured. Families will be able to look at a range of learning and working scenarios that best meet family needs.

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