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What is Education

By Luke-Ashill Mar 11, 2015 3572 Words

What is Education?

With reference to educational theories and current affairs, demonstrate an understanding of child centred learning

Personal Evaluation – to support your academic progress, we are interested to read your own assessment of this work as a measure of your own effort and in order that we may comment on your strengths and weaknesses. Please ensure you complete this assessment before submitting your work.

What do you consider are the best aspects of this piece of work?

I learnt and gained a greater understanding of different teaching styles and approaches to learning.

Which aspects do you consider could have been improved in this piece of work?

I think that my work I have produced could have broadened, using more examples of Theorists/

What have you found most satisfying whilst undertaking this submission?

Being able to be able to be creative and show myself in different ways rather than essay based writing.

“Tell me and I forget.
Teach me and I remember.
Involve me and I learn”

Benjamin Franklin

Head of Ofsted
The head of Ofsted has pledged to root out inspectors who champion trendy teaching amid warnings that progressive methods had damaged generations of schoolchildren. Sir Michael Wilshaw said so-called “child-centred” learning – a characteristic of many classrooms in the 60s and 70s – would form no part of the assessment process. He denied the watchdog was "full of lefty, hippy-types" and insisted it wanted to see structured, teacher-led activities.Any inspectors found advocating alternative methods “wouldn’t be working for me for very long”, he said. The comments were made as he launched a major overhaul of inspections in England. Under new plans, full routine inspections of the majority of state schools are to be ditched. Around six-in-10 schools – those rated as "good" – will get short visits from one inspector every two to three years. It follows a similar move for those ranked as “outstanding”. Full inspections will only be triggered if the watchdog suspects that standards at a school have dropped, Sir Michael said.The move comes amid growing concerns from head teachers about the current state of the Ofsted process and the quality of some inspectors.The system has also faced claims from influential think-tanks that Ofsted favours left-leaning progressive techniques in which children are left to work alone or in groups for long periods with little leadership from teachers. Child-centred methods have often been characterised as allowing pupils to proceed at their own pace and make discoveries independent of the teacher. Sir Michael has already attacked the suggestion, saying he was “spitting blood” at previous suggestions that figures within the Department for Education may be briefing against Ofsted – a charge rejected by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary.Talking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Michael said he was “enraged by that suggestion that Ofsted was full of lefty, hippy-type inspectors, mired in 60s, child-centred ideology”.“I am part of a generation of people who experienced – I started teaching in the 60s – that sort of ideology which ruined the lives of generations of children at that time,” he said.Speaking later at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual conference in Birmingham, he said Ofsted inspectors were under instruction to mark down such techniques.“If we had any inspectors in our organisation that were applying that sort of ideology, they wouldn’t be working for me for very long,” he said. “I think it was unstructured, it wasn’t teacher led, it employed teaching techniques that didn’t promote good teaching and learning. So we are well away from that. “We want to see teacher-led activities, we want to see structured learning, we want to see teaching in more formal settings.” Earlier this year, he wrote to inspectors telling them not to mark down teachers who create structured lessons, adding that they should “not criticise teacher talk for being overlong” “Do not expect to see ‘’independent learning’’ in all lessons and do not make the assumption that this is always necessary or desirable,” he said. “On occasions, too, pupils are rightly passive rather than active recipients of learning. Do not criticise ‘passivity’ as a matter of course and certainly not unless it is evidently stopping pupils from learning new knowledge or gaining skills and understanding.” (

In this article the head of Office for standards in Education, Children’s services and skills (Ofsted) suggests that the use of child-centred teaching approaches in the 1960s and 70s had a detrimental effect on pupils in schools. This did not provide them with the right tools to learn and to transfer their learning into the real world. He believes that when child centred learning was in place across many schools, children were left to their own devices, not being challenged and the children were made to only discover what they could access.

Sir Michael wants to see a more formal approach to the way we teach our children, make it a teacher lead approach. He wants every child, based on their age, to be educated at the same pace regardless if some children find it more difficult than others or if children learn in different ways.

However, The child-centred learning approach includes the theories of people like Montessori, Bruner, Dewey and Froebbel. Montessori based her theory of child-centred learning on creating an independent learner. She believed that every child should be given tasks to do, and allow the child to complete that task by themselves without any adult intervention. By allowing the child to be able to do tasks like dressing themselves, move around the classroom and to help adults with tasks like helping with school dinners or clearing up after an art craft session. Montessori believed that by allowing children to do these things it would increase more than just the education of the child, it would increase their self belief, confidence and esteem, All are vital skills which are equally important as learning Numeracy and Numeracy. Frobebbel was keen to ensure children had access to the outdoors to enhance their learning and understanding. The head of Ofsted does not consider the value of these approaches. He seems to ignore the fact that children develop at different rates (as Montessori noted) and they therefore benefit from opportunities to learn by real-life experiences rather than through teaching from a textbook that they don’t relate to.

Another theorist has a very similar idea of was John Dewey. He believed that children should be given the opportunity to problem solve. One of the ways he thought of this was though a restorative justice is a program designed to look at the conflict that happened and to help the offender realise the effect they have had on the victim and to provide mediation.

All staff treat the children and each other, with kindness and respect. They try always to be fair and consistent. It is the policy of the school to ensure the children are adequately supervised at all times. Children do, from time to time, act unkindly or recklessly. When this happens it is important for all concerned to keep a sense of proportion. In the event of any misbehavior the school discipline policy comes into force. Our emphasis is very much on the positive approach of encouragement and praise whenever possible, rather than the more negative one of criticism and punishment. All staff aim to promote a caring ethos throughout the school. Children are encouraged to behave in a socially acceptable way by actively promoting and praising good behavior rather than highlighting and giving attention to misdeeds and wrongdoing. We have reward systems in place to help in this positive behavior management. This is in the form of House Points and Merits. Each class teacher uses the ‘Learning Ladder’ to indicate to the children their current attitudes and outcomes to learning, and at the end of the day selects a maximum of two children to award merits to. The school celebrates achievements of individual pupils on a regular basis through our weekly Achievement Assembly – a Star of the Week is awarded and children are encouraged to show and explain their achievements outside school. Praise and reward include:

A quiet word or smile of encouragement
A positive written comment on the child’s work
A visit to another member of staff/ Headteacher for a written comment or reward badge Public acknowledgement in the weekly Achievement Assembly with a written certificate Giving of some responsibility/treat

A letter home to parents/guardians informing them of an action or achievement deserving praise – bronze, silver, gold awards
Use of termly and annual reporting arrangements to comment favourably on academic achievements, behaviour, involvement or general attitude.
Staff set an example to pupils in matters of dress, punctuality and commitment. Staff will be responsible at all times of the behaviour of pupils within sight and sound of them. Immediate checking by all staff of minor offences often prevents more major problems developing. However, when children do break the rules, the school has a clearly prescribed code of sanctions to be implemented according to the seriousness of the incident, previous conduct and co-operation of parents. These sanctions include:

Child’s name is recorded by a member of staff and a verbal warning is given to the pupil Loss of play session/sessions
Loss of privileges
Withdrawal from class for a set period
Notification in writing to the parents with an invitation to discuss the issues in school Temporary exclusion
Permanent exclusion

This article is come from a school called St. Helens Roman Catholic Junior School in Barry. The article talks about how positive behavior is managed within the school. It mentions how it manages positive behaviors, explaining the reward system, how it manages the negative behavior and explains the consequences. The article outlines and demonstrates very good practices towards a child-centred learning approach in what could be a hard area to tackle. The article shows that the school is not only reaching the child-centred learning approach but it is ticking boxes for one of the 7 core aims – enjoying the best possible health and are free from abuse, victimization and exploitation. In the article it states that every pupil will be treated fair and consistently. Skinnner discovered that lack of clear outline of direction and clarity of direction was an issue in education. This school has made his theory clear in the document. The school understands that some children may not always comply with the school rules. The school has in place a number of child-friendly approaches on how to tackle this. It sets to praise and reward, but also has the opposite to this, which are consequences for unacceptable behaviour. Montessori was a firm believer that children should not be told off, but not just let off when doing something wrong. She said that children learn more by being corrected. For example if a child was to swear; there would be a different response than to shout at the child, may be saying ‘that is not a very nice word, next time lets use a different word for how you are feeling’. Another example that this school shows a good approach to child-centred learning is its reward system. The reward system that this school uses is based on Skinners ‘Behavioral’ Theory. Schools now understand that they will get a better result from children if they are rewarded for doing good work or even just turning up for school.

St. Mary’s C of E Primary School
At St. Mary’s C of E Primary School, we believe off-site educational visits, including residential visits, are a vital part of providing a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils in the school. Such visits enrich the curriculum and provide experiences not available within the confines of the school grounds. Purposes, Aims and Objectives

Through a suitable programme of educational visits we aim to: Provide a range of educational visits to supplement and enrich the curriculum Stimulate in the pupils, an interest in the world around them Make an impact not easily achieved through other means Raise achievement by enhancing self-esteem and motivation Develop social skills and promote citizenship

Develop understanding and tolerance
Prepare pupils for the opportunities and responsibilities of later life. Types of Visit
Cycling on or off roads or mountain biking in non-remote or hazardous countryside Field study ventures in non-remote or hazardous areas
Land navigation exercises
Orienteering in local parks or open countryside / woodland Riding horses or pony-trekking Team building or problem solving exercises
Use of swimming pools.
Visits to libraries, museums, exhibitions, theatres, National Trust properties, music and arts events, cultural centres and galleries and zoological gardens

Educational Visits
This article from St. Mary’s school. It explains how important child offsite education is to the child. The school has discovered the importance of how essential getting the children out into the outdoors benefits there development academically and how they develop as a young child. The school is demonstrating good child-centred learning environment for young pupils. The school provides a number of different education learning experiences such as taking the children to a local museum, by allowing the children do see some history in a real life situation rather than just pictures on the board and looking at text books they are getting a greater understanding of the topic they are learning about. Another great example of good practice that this school does is teaching the children life skills such as Team building and problem solving tasks. Educational theorist Jerome Bruner 1915 – present, (S. Ainsworth, 2014) believed that ‘Education is about opening the mind, not learning by rote ( This meant that we can get children to sit in a classroom and read for 6 hours a day or be dictated to how something should be done, does not give the best learning outcome. We need to get children to interact with learning, get them from out of the classroom and learn how things work. Let children understand how history was made by taking them to a museum. Another well-known educational theorist was John Dewey 1859 – 1952, (S.Ainsworth, 2014) had the theory of problem solving. Dewey understood that children needed to be able to problem solve and have knowledge to have the skills of reflective thinking. The School, St. Mary’s school outlines that it has built into its curriculum problem solving. An example of this would be the school constantly challenges pupils whenever the opportunity arises. In Math the opportunities are endless with mental math and other aspects when studying math. Another example would be when the pupils are given practical tasks to do. It could be something as simple as tying their own shoelaces to practicing their handwriting. All these opportunities are valuable to the pupils in developing in many different ways.(

Every child has different needs. Needs that, when not met, can sometimes act as a barrier to concentration, achievement and happiness. At Jordanstown, we specialise in meeting the specific needs of children who are deaf or have visual impairments. By doing ‘what works best for every child,’ using a combination of the latest technologies and experienced, attentive teaching, we offer an individual approach to communication that is tailored to maximise the learning potential of every single child. Our diverse team of teachers and classroom assistants use Total Communication, Sign Supported English, BSL, FM and Soundfield Systems, Moon, Braille, closed circuit electronic magnification tools and large print formats to engage and educate both in and outside of the classroom. In addition to being a specialist-learning environment, Jordanstown is also equipped with the latest testing and therapy facilities. Used by medical professionals from local Health Care Trusts, it offers children and their parents a simpler, easier and more comfortable way to access medical and therapy input, reducing unnecessary time spent away from the classroom. These facilities include a brand new hydrotherapy pool, therapy rooms and training rooms. Our highly trained staff members are also able to offer training and guidance in our residential facilities for parents and families to help ensure a relaxed home life for everyone. (

This is an extract from the prospects from a special needs school in Northern Ireland. The school in the extract, talks about how the school aims to meet every single child’s needs. This is not only academic needs as well, the school has employed professionals to work in the school with them children who has physical needs that need to be met. The school also mentions that it will not only just use the traditional method of teaching but it will also look at a specific curriculum for the individual to ensure they are given the best possible start in life. The school has grown to understand how important it is for children with additional needs to be able to get out into the world and learn by doing things. School trips are the best way for this to be done. An example of school trip, a class is looking at different animals and what they look like, how they smell, how they are in size comparison to the child. The school would take that class to a local farm. At the farm they would be able to meet cows, sheep, and horses. The added benefit for going to the farm would be the child would get a sense of all the learning outcomes. Also with planned learning because the child would be outside possibly with other people around, they would also be developing social skills, a sense of the environment and even possibly helping the teachers with time keeping. All this is called incidental learning. The theorist, Jerome Bruner, realised that it was important for children to get outside the classroom and learn by doing, not just to be classroom bound. Bruner has three modes of representation that he proposed were the best method to learning.

These are :
Enactive representation (action-based) ( Iconic representation (image-based)( Symbolic representation (language-based)( The school has taken the approach of Bruner and they have adapted it to suit the curriculum for children with additional needs. The school goes through the methods. Enactive is about allowing the child to be hands on with an object, for example allowing a child to play in a sand pit. Image based learning is about allowing the child to learn by sight. Johnstown uses this approach by giving the children the opportunity to leave the classroom and explore the school environment or even school trips. Symbolic teaching in Johnstown is a bit different to a mainstream primary school. The school has programs such as using symbols to represent things for everyday life. An example of this would be a card saying ‘hello’ with a person waving. Johnstown school has a very specific child friendly approach to teaching the children in their school. The school strives to make sure every child can meet their individual achievements and it does this by basing their whole school ethos around suiting the child’s learning to them.


From looking at the different articles, which show different approaches towards teaching and education, it is quite clear that schools, especially primary, take a child centred approach to learning.

The first article that I looked at was from the Ofsted and it looked at and tried to find reasons why we should be teaching predominantly in the classroom and why he thought that an approach towards child centred learning would be detrimental to the next generation of people. From my research I have found I would have to disagree with his statement. Allowing a child to be able to learn in many ways rather than to just one is not only beneficial by allowing the child to learn more effectively, but if a child enjoys going to school then we have been able to break down a learning barrier from the very start.

The second was based on how a primary school deals with good and bad behavior in school. The school demonstrates that it shows a good, strong ethos towards promoting positive behavior. The school does this by promoting its staff as role models. It also talks about the consequences for naughty behavior. The school promotes equality to make sure that every child regardless of anything are treated the same.

The third school (St. Mary’s School) was a school that knew the importance of a curriculum that was very child centred. Its approach towards education is about getting the children outside of the classroom and discovering what can’t be discovered sitting in a classroom. It talks about how it successfully uses school trips to the pupils’ advantage, from the planned curriculum to the hidden curriculum.

The last school that I looked at was a special educational needs school called Johnstone in Northern Ireland. The school has pupils with a wide range of ability’s. This school’s ethos was built upon making sure that every child had a flying start in life and the school days was as child centred as possible, making the curriculum suit the child rather than the child suiting the curriculum. The school has got a fantastic ethos towards learning outdoors, learning through touch, feel and smell making sure that the children were enjoying school as well as learning the curriculum set out by the government.

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