Jamie Olivers Dream School
I feel like I’m on an education rant roll at the moment so please forgive me. Having watched the opening epsisode of Jamie Olivers latest well intentioned promotion vehicle on C4 last night I felt compelled to vent my feelings.
For anyone who missed it the concept it pretty straightforward. Take 20 kids who’ve “failed” in mainstream schools (in other words not managed to hit the magic target of 5 GCSEs), hand them over to Jamie for 6 weeks, he gets a bunch of “celebrity” personalities to come in and inspire them to fall back in love with education and themselves.
So last night it was the turn of Lord Winston (science), David Starkey (history), Simon Callow (english), Dame Ellen MacArthur (sailing) – with Jamie of course as the pupils friend and mentor and some other bloke as the “headmaster” (who seemed more interested in sacking David Starkey for inappropriate behaviour…).
Anyway I’m sure over time the series will follow the usual reality path a la Gareth Malone and many others where there will be despair and frustration with drop outs and tears, followed by an uplifting climax with several of the kids achieving academic greatness and a general sense of well being all round. We shall see.
Anyway the point for me is that on the basis of what we’ve been shown so far, this “experiment” is very unlikely to prove that different methods can motivate and inspire. I’m sure if every school in the country could afford to hire top Shakespearean actors to teach English, bring in several million pounds worth of histroical artefacts into the classroom to spark some historical flame, shove a dead pig on the table and dissect it with a ciurcular saw, and then send the kids off for a day trip to the Isle of Wight on a yacht with a round the world yachtswoman then the level of interest and academic achievement would indeed improve. Sadly they can’t afford to (unless of course all of these worthy people decide to give up a portion of their valuable time for free to further the education of the masses).
Back on planet reality most schools have to make do with dwindling budgets, mounting paperwork, and disinterested pupils, who struggle to see much point to their academic endeavours when they consider that 20% of the young people in the country are out of work.
So what’s the answer? Well certainly inspirational teachers are criticial in interesting and exciting children to academic success. A proper and practical curriculum for all would be a good start as well – something we don’t actually have at the moment given the coaltion have scrapped the last Labour one and don’t expect to have their own in place until the end of 2012 (that’s ok then….).
Most importantly though we need to provide inspiration for the youth of today by giving them hope that their academic endeavours will be rewarded with future employment and prosperity. Without that it really is all just “academic”…
So good on you Jamie for the Dream School and I shall watch with interest as the series develops (especially as Cherie seems to be on the menu later in the series). In the meantime a message to Dave, Nick and George – if you want to sort this out a good place to start as always will be on jobs and the economy. So over to you….
Just a thought…