Schools should develop 'brands', says head

TEACHERS SHOULD be like marketing executives, selling reading and writing to children who learn only what they choose to learn, says a Derbyshire head.

Richard Gerver, from Grange primary in Long Eaton, has presented his definition of personalised learning to education conferences in China, Portugal and, yesterday, in Birmingham.

Schools need to create learning lifestyle brands such as the Harley-Davidson "freedom" brand and the Disneyland "fun and excitement"

brand, he told The TES.

He said schools should be optional and teachers should make learning so exciting that pupils turn up voluntarily.

This year, Mr Gerver began to allow his pupils to choose what they studied rather than pursue subject lessons. For example, one class chose to create a museum of famous historical figures such as Henry VIII and John Lennon.

None chose traditional subject categories such as writing or maths.

Spelling and reading and arithmetic were sold as seductive means to an end rather than being taught to push children over test hurdles. One teacher had shown clips of scene changes in EastEnders to teach pupils about using paragraphs.

Mr Gerver gave the examples of queues of desperate children for the launches of new PlayStation machines and Harry Potter novels.

"Society seems to see the marketing and advertising industry as an evil element in corrupting our children, but these people really know how to sell to kids, rightly or wrongly," he said. "They know how to capture children's imaginations and how to make kids want stuff badly. But how much time as educators do we spend on branding and advertising?"

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