2020 really pushed us to our limits, and perhaps even beyond. When you were desperately trying to keep your business afloat or tearing your hair out at ever-changing social and travel restrictions, I wonder, what skills did you call upon? I suspect your strength of character and resilience were just as important as your intellectual knowledge. We all had to dig deep.
I am not a single-sex zealot. That might seem odd coming from the Warden of Radley College, one of the great bastions of boys-only boarding, but it’s true. I get a little fed up with evangelical statements, backed up by supposedly incontrovertible statistics, that girls do better in this environment, boys in that. We all know that we can find the statistics we want. What really matters is whether a school is good or not: there are mediocre single-sex schools and excellent co-educational schools and I know which of these I would recommend. And what matters next, once you have defined and verified ‘good’ – different criteria can apply – is whether your child will be happy: if they are, they are much more likely to succeed.
Times have changed across society – very much for the better – when it comes to talking about mental health issues. No serious employer, the Services included, is without a programme to encourage employees to be open about their experiences, and there are many great examples of individuals dealing successfully with challenges that would once have made working life almost impossible.
UK plc has a major skills shortage and yet Engineering UK’s 2020 report on educational pathways into engineering showed there is a widespread lack of understanding about engineering with 47 per cent of teenagers between the ages of 11 and 19 saying they know very little about what engineers do. There is a current lack of presence in the curriculum in England and Wales, a problem if we are to close the skills gap and support the recruitment of more engineers. It is estimated that there is an annual shortage of between 25,000 and 60,000 skilled engineers. Given that engineering contributes 26 per cent of UK GDP nationally, this is a significant concern. More than 60 per cent of engineering employers say that a failure to recruit skilled staff is a barrier to business.
Evidence from international studies, supported in part by research in the UK, has found that just a few key elements affect pupils’ attitudes to physics. It is up to us, the teaching profession, to ignite and develop a passion for physics in today’s learners.
Progress is one of those words we see a lot in education – you’ll read it in your son or daughter’s reports, on school websites and in inspection reports, and there are even league tables for some schools based on average academic progress in selected GCSEs. But is this the only type of progress, and is it reasonable to attempt to measure this concept?