Management guru Peter Drucker is quoted as saying that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and most companies, institutions and governments spend much of their time managing exactly those things which they are asked to measure; for without measurement you cannot ascertain improvement, right? Maybe. But what if we’re measuring the wrong stuff? And what if the things we should be measuring cannot easily be measured? Should that stop us trying?
The fact that something is easily measurable does not necessarily mean that it should be the thing which occupies our management time. In recent weeks I have found myself repeatedly coming back to a quotation by violinist Stephen Nachmanavotich which appears in Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott’s book ‘The 100 Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity’.
“If we operate with a belief in long sweeps of time, we build cathedrals; if we operate from fiscal quarter to fiscal quarter, we build ugly shopping malls”.
Despite a recent out of touch plea from writers David Kynaston and Francis Green in this month's Guardian, the rest of the world (beyond an increasingly self-destructive and introspective Britain) recognises that educational advantage is actually globally desirable. Surprise!
Whereas Kynaston and Green would advocate for a global reduction in educational standards to the lowest common denominator - a sure fire way to ensure that everyone suffers equal disadvantage - I would advocate that the world needs to invest systematically and wholeheartedly in their educational systems. This is exactly what much of the MENASA region are doing by importing UK independent school brands.
Inclusive education is about ensuring access to quality education for all students by effectively meeting their diverse needs in a way that is responsive, accepting, respectful and supportive. This is evident through student engagement and participation in an education programme within a common learning environment with the benefit of targeted support which enables the reduction and removal of barriers that may lead to exclusion.
The term 'special educational needs', as defined in the government.ae website section titled ‘Education for people of determination’, is used to describe the educational needs of anyone with a disability, disorder, difficulty, impairment, exceptionality or any other factor that may affect (but notably not necessarily impede) a student's access to learning and educational performance.
As schools across the world gear up for TIMSS 2019 is it not about time we ask whether the OECD and IEA assessments are even relevant anymore?
Firstly, do you even know who the OECD and the IEA are? The OECD is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development founded to stimulate economic development and world trade. The IEA is the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement founded in 1958 as a response to discussions at a UNESCO conference on how researchers could generate data on the mathematics and science achievement of students and compare it to that of students in other countries.
For decades the United Arab Emirates has welcomed tens of thousands of teachers into its 641 schools, however, a triple threat now risks disrupting the supply chain. Cumbersome bureaucracy, initiative overload and crippling accountability have the potential to turn the UAE education system into the very monster from which overseas staff have been escaping.
A toxic mix of factors including mounting workloads, unrealistic targets and an inspection regime which gives primacy to an Outstanding rating rather than the creativity, character education and leadership skills which will enable young people to make a positive impact on the world, chase up to 15,000 teachers out of the UK and into the arms of British Schools Overseas every single year, including schools in the UAE.