“If I were education secretary I would…”

I would first recognise the excellence in state schools throughout the country. I would do this by indicating what I meant by “high-impact” schools that develop the whole child, and identifying at least six high-impact teachers/principals and installing them in my office as “first reactors” to all initiatives.

I would then:

1. Fund an independent group of high-impact teachers to help guide my policies and help in effective implementation, and thus raise the esteem of the profession.

2. Change the notion of success from high achievement to “every child deserves at least a year’s progress for a year’s input”.

3. Take half the content out of the curriculum to allow room for surface and deep learning.

4. Accredit teacher education institutions on the evidence that their graduates can successfully impact on student learning.

5. Provide assessment resources for schools that help them to see their impact (and never ask schools for their student test data).

6. Ask schools for their “judgments” (informed by tests both standardised and teacher made, by their observations) about each student’s progress across
all curricula domains

7. Abolish Ofsted and instead form groups of principals and independent professional evaluators to visit schools to look at the quality of their judgments about impact; and use a one to five-year review cycle based on the quality of the evidence about impact.

8. Change the hierarchy of teachers’ pay scales to allow those who pass at least three levels of “bar exams” — exams akin to the national board for professional teaching standards (NBPTS) in the US — to become proficient, highly accomplished and lead teachers with greater pay provided that they stay in the classrooms (ditto for principals).

9. Make schools responsible for the induction of new teachers into the profession via a “bar exam” (akin to NBPTS) after their second year.

10. Retain equity funding for hard-to-teach schools with students of low socioeconomic status, those who have learning difficulties, etc, provided the recipient schools can show that more of these students have gained at least a year’s growth (via 6 and 7); and

11. Introduce study leave that would allow teachers and principals to apply for six months to teach in another school, another country, or in industry or business.

Last, I would agree to come to the annual festival of education and listen to as many sessions as possible.

John Hattie is co-author of Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn (Routledge, 2014)

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