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Barriers to learning #3 – The factory system

I recently added two posts on ‘barriers to learning’ – the year group and the timetable . This post and tomorrow’s post will extend that idea to look at two larger scale problems – the nature of the ‘education system’ and the exams system.

Our secondary schools are like factories. In fact, perhaps battery farms would be a better analogy. Some ‘forward thinking’ schools might have a metaphorical window open, or the cages in the sun, but ultimately pupils have to come in, learn with in rigidly defined boxes and regularly lay eggs (pass tests). If we look as education as a system, with things to be moved around and where students need to ‘get an education’ this might make sense. But not from the point of view of the learners.

To stretch a metaphor to breaking point, we need free range schools. Where pupils are free to wander off to explore learning within some broadly defined limits. This is increasingly happening in primary, and to some extent Key Stage 3. The big question now is how do you square the circle of free range learners, who need to get qualifications from a factory system?

Dave Stacey

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