Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Your Pupils Need a Shining Example

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Your Pupils Need a Shining Example

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme Whitfield Education Correspondent

The chief schools inspector has used a lecture in the North-East to outline his vision for the country's education system.

David Bell, who used to be director of education in Newcastle, returned to the region this week to give a lecture at the Hermitage School, in Chester-le-Street.

He took the opportunity to call on schools to improve the teaching of citizenship, which he said was an "essential ingredient of an effective school."

He also called on teachers to inspire children and act as "shining examples" to their pupils.

Referring to his time as Newcastle's education director, Mr Bell said that he saw too much inequality between schools, with good and bad schools often within walking distance of each other.

He said that social conditions, particularly poverty, had a large effect on what children achieved in schools, but called on teachers to make the difference for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Mr Bell said that the gap between good and bad schools was still too large, but he took the opportunity to praise teachers, saying that standards in the classroom had never been higher, particularly in primary schools.

In particular, Mr Bell praised staff at the Hermitage, quoting an Ofsted report which the quality of its leadership and its high morale.

He said: "How can schools prepare young people so that they can benefit from the opportunities that globalisation offers? Let me come off the fence and offer a view of what I think schools should offer.

"First, I believe that schools should offer children and young people a broad and rich curriculum as an entitlement. I saw too much that went wrong in the 1960s and 70s to backtrack on my belief that a broad curriculum must in general terms be defined nationally.

"I saw too many incoherent or nonexistent curriculums, too many eccentric and unevaluated teaching methods, and too much of the totally soft-centred belief that children would learn if you left them to it. …

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