Sunday, February 09, 2014

Factory Education
– Changing the Paradigm

You’ve probably heard the term “Factory Farming”. The industrialisation of agriculture, animals that never see a blade of grass or light of day and vast mono-culture fields where bio-diversity is non-existant and bees have to be imported to pollinate the crops.

What you are possibly not familiar with is the term Factory Education. The industrialisation of children’s learning and development. There were a couple of comments on an earlier post about Farmageddon that reminded me, somehow, of a Royal Society of Arts (RSA) animated lecture on education back in October 2010. These animated lectures are really entertaining if you like drawing.

A couple of quotes to get you in the mood to watch the video below:
So people say we have to raise standards as if this is a breakthrough, you know, really, yes we should; why would you lower them?
We still educate children by batches; [snip] It's like the most important thing about them is their date of manufacture.
[On reduced creativity with age] They've spent ten years at school being told there's one answer it's at the back and don't look. And don't copy because that's cheating. Outside school that's called collaboration ...

Then we have Systems Thinking in the Public Sector

Seddon's prescription then and now (for the UK and for any other country using the quasi free market model for public services) is this:
  • scrap the myth of 'choice' (because the public don't want a choice of hospitals, they want a good hospital) (Ed: read school)
  • scrap targets (because they don't work and people spend their time trying to massage the statistics)
  • scrap specifications (because they're wrong and they don't work)
  • scrap inspections (because they're expensive to do and to prepare for and they only serve to ensure that people are doing the wrong thing correctly meeting bad specifications)
  • scrap 'deliverology' (because it's nonsense)
  • scrap the obsession with sharing administrative and back-office services in huge call centres and 'data warehouses' (because they don't work half as well as front offices where people talk to the public)
  • scrap the Audit Commission (because it's a white elephant)
  • scrap the centralised regime that oversees the disastrous public sector (because it is the problem)
Then use systems thinking to understand and fix problems and deliver joined-up public services that ...
  • work better
  • work faster
  • save money
  • delight the public and
  • delight the people who deliver those services.

Further Reading:

The Independent - Peter Gray
Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less
Because students spend nearly all of their time studying, they have little opportunity to be creative or discover their own passions

Exam factory approach 'damaging education’

CBI complains of 'exam factory' schools

Problem: Those who have benefitted from the current system, simply because it is the current system, are the people in charge. Gove or Blair, it doesn't make much difference. If your plumbing is broke, who do you call? A Plumber or a politician?


  1. Looks like the start of a real public discussion in Redbridge about what education should be! National Union of Teachers totally up for this.

  2. There is a problem which nobody has foreseen as yet, but Sweden
    are about to have to resolve this problem, it is the fact that Free Schools and Academies will go bankrupt, and when this happens who will pick up the bill and who will take over the education of students,
    caught up in the fall out. No doubt the Government will wash its hands of actually doing anything to rectify the situation and leave it to the poor Local Authority to pick up the pieces. I can foresee at some time in the near future a string of failures similar to the end of the Dot Com fiasco, and PFI disasters.

  3. It is with no pleasure that what I foretold in my last post, has almost come to pass- E-Act which runs 34 Academies and Free Schools(including one in Aldborough) has had 10 of the 34 schools it runs condemned by Ofstead.The Dept of Edcation is now circling about like a headless chicken trying "to find new sponsors".
    If this had happened within a borough education system, Gove would be telling us how much better his system is, but not a word from the Minister, about the Failure of his system.Of course why would new sponsors want to take over a failing school?. It does not take rocket science to work out that these schools will end up being run by their local authority, and be expected to raise their standards but, get no additional funding for it. Our children are entitled to a decent continuous education, not being down to the whims of a whole series
    of Politicians who are only in position for 6 to 36 months, impose new ideas then leave the System to deal with the last round of devastation.

    The losers in all this, of course, are our children and grandchildren