Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Finland's education system

This wee bit from the TES reminded me of a BBC report on Scottish TV that was on a while ago. Among the things one could learn about the groovy Finnish system were: they don't start formal education until the age of seven; their schools are fully-comprehensive, with a strong social ethos that favours attending your local school; little formal assessment; no equivalent of Her Majesty's Inspectorate (they have the novel idea that teachers are professionals and can be trusted to get on with the job); and - something that would please Tommy Sheridan - free school meals.

The net result? They reckoned Finnish fifteen-year-olds were the best educated in the OECD.

Our education minister's response to this funky notion of reducing the amount of assessment and general government interference in schools?

"Um, yes...well, we can learn from them but they are also learning from us (What? Other than how not to run an education system)...blah, blah...we're looking at having Scottish pupils doing Standard Grade at the end of third year, rather than fourth".

In other words, our executive's response to the news that less formative assessment is good for attainment is...more assessment. Brilliant. Just brilliant, Mr. Peacock...

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