“World Class” Education – How will we compare?

I have just returned to the UK, after five years working in International Education, and have read with interest that we can all look forward to a new, “World Class” curriculum, that will “ensure the children of the UK will be able to enjoy the sort of education available to children in other countries.” Sounds great!

However, having never visited or worked in a school in what are regarded as the Worlds best education systems, how can I genuinely compare?

I would love to use Twitter to learn more about the education systems elsewhere in the World and would greatly appreciate some comments from educators, or other interested parties, who work, or have experience of working, in the countries I have started to investigate below.

I have managed to ascertain a few interesting facts; if anyone can verify, correct or indeed add to the information detailed below, I would be eternally grateful!

SINGAPORE

  • Equal emphasis on vocational AND academic qualifications
  • Huge emphasis on raising the quality of its teachers and its education leaders
  • Teach Less > Learn More – moved instruction away from rote memorisation and repetitive tasks
  • Focus on deeper conceptual understanding and problem based learning
  • From 2009 Art, Music and PE all gained a larger role in the overall curriculum
  • Introduced TEACH framework to support teacher-led professional development and work life balance
  • Great care taken to ensure new policies complement the old ones
  • Teachers trained in Singapores most prestigious higher educational institutes

FINLAND

  • Responsibility for Teacher Training lies in Finnish Universities in order to improve quality of teaching
  • Success is a result of a lone, slow and steady process, not a single policy program or administration > each step built sensibly on those that went before
  • United comprehensive education structure and national curriculum guidelines
  • Do not start formal school until they are seven years old; instead remain in play-based pre-schools or “kindergartens” until that age,
  • Key to success – quality of teachers
  • Every 4 years, Government prepares a development plan for education; constantly adapting to the changing needs of the country
  • Focus on:
    • Smaller class sizes
    • Enhancing remediation and special needs training
    • Improve teachers working conditions and develop new opportunities for Professional Development
  • do not begin to study simple fractions, such as halves and quarters, until they are at least seven.

AUSTRALIA

  • De-centralised education system > although there is a common framework for the country’s states and territories
  • Enhanced Professional Development opportunities
  • National Partnership to improve Teacher Training and retention
  • Developed a National Assessment programme and National Curriculum in 2009
  • Slight decline in maths and reading meant a $67 billion infusion into the education system
  • Initiatives targeted ailing school infrastructure and underacheiving students

CANADA

  • No federal level education ministry
  • Strong focus on integration of immigrant children
  • Prior to 2003, Canada had aggressive education reform strategy.  Centralised testing and teacher accountability  deeply alienated teachers and the unions
  • After 2003, teachers were engaged through an agenda THEY played a strong role in designing rather than one imposed on them
  • Established a literary and numeracy team, separate from the ministry, who worked with schools to set high but achievable goals
  • Student success strategy – focused on identifying potential drop outs & providing them with additional help to succeed e.g. new high school majors
  • Government provided funds to schools to hire specialist, designated teachers in problem areas


I will leave you to draw your own conclusions about how our prospective “World Class” curriculum compares to the above. `

Hopefully, comments below will assist us all further in ascertaining the real parallels between these leaders in educational provision and what we will face in schools from September 2014.

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One thought on ““World Class” Education – How will we compare?

  1. So all these countries invest in their teachers and respect their views? Funny that! Who are we to know what’s best for the children we work with day in day out? You don’t see politicians telling nurses how to do their jobs so why teachers? If you’ve never been a teacher you shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions on what happens on a class room.

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