What does really matter in education? Headteacher Geoff Barton delivers a blistering rant in this video!

Geoff Barton, headteacher and writer, spoke at the Stephen Perse Foundation conference, What Is Learning For, this week on a panel which I chaired. I videod his contribution, which you can see below. Barton was a leading figure in the fight against the English Baccalaureate exams Michael Gove tried to foist upon a reluctant profession this year, but has now backtracked on. He was characterised by an anonymous political critic on the Local Schools Network website as an extremist but when you hear him speak you realise that this is utter nonsense; I got the sense he is a real “middle-of-the-road”, sensible teacher. He argues for a curriculum which does contain “facts” as E.D.Hirsch, Michael Gove’s favourite educationalist, argues for; but he also wants a curriculum which is broad and balanced, where every child can learn a musical instrument, or work as a team. I thought his passionate plea for children to experience and learn about other cultures was very interesting because he speaks as a teacher who works in Suffolk, a largely white county which he jokingly refers to as “Suffolkating”. Unlike Gove who wants to ram British History down children’s throats with his new History Curriculum, Barton sees the importance of children learning about other cultures as a vital part of their education. Barton is particularly scathing about Gove’s new grammar tests, which appear to be rather nonsensical and abstract.


Published by: @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing (fgipublishing.com) which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network, www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, www.francisgilbert.co.uk. He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.

Categories Government policy, LearningTags, , , , , 1 Comment

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