Personalised learning is fishy

2nd July 2004 at 01:00
David Miliband's definition of personalised learning is "an education system where assessment, curriculum, teaching style and out-of-hours provision are all designed to discover and nurture the unique talents of every single pupil" (GTC Teaching magazine, Summer 2004). This notion is nothing more than a red herring.

How do Sats serve to discover and nurture unique talent? We all know their purpose is to draw up league tables so we can nudge schools and children from narrow, empirical "evidence" of educational standards.

In terms of curriculum, the trouble lies in the top-down approach. The primary curriculum is not getting better; it is getting more complicated.

Not only are children expected to know more and more at a younger age, but they are also expected to be better and better at doing so.

Pre-prepared teaching plans and resources increasingly take up big chunks of school budgets, but this is probably due to need rather than want. As much as teachers would like to design their own exciting lessons, they have insufficient time and energy.

The mention of "out-of-hours provision" rings alarm bells, as this is either about compensating for the fun element that is squeezed out of lessons - painting, singing, drama; or else it means booster sessions for Sats revision.

Personalised learning should be about educating the individual and meeting their developmental needs; needs that can be observed and discussed, not predetermined by the Government.

Personalised learning is about the human touch. What education needs is not more interactive whiteboards; but more personal interaction ... and that can only come from more teachers and smaller classes.

Emese Hall Ridgeway Higher Ashton, Devon

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