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How to balance school results and well-being

April 4, 2018 1:26 PM
By Richard Morris

Talking Point for Sevenoaks Chronicle, Liberal Democrats, April 4th 2018


Richard Morris is the former Chief Executive of ABRSM, the world's leading assessment and awarding body in music education, and the current Chairman of The Yehudi Menuhin School.

A rounded education contains much more than what is measured by academic results. It should include participation in all the arts, sport, community work, and personal, social and emotional development.

I come across this issue all the time, as Chairman of the Yehudi Menuhin School. It was fundamental to the vision and ethos of Yehudi in founding his school, which has probably the highest standards of music educational excellence in the UK, as well as very good academic results. He wanted his school to deliver not only virtuoso performers, judged by competitive results, but a rounded education for exceptionally talented young musicians.

The school maintains the belief that a rounded education is essential for student well-being, which in turn will contribute to the finest musicianship.

Liberal Democrats recognise this across all education. Developing essential knowledge and skills in young people goes alongside educating them to become happy, healthy and engaged members of their community.

We believe that the best way to do this is to place more trust in teachers to apply their expertise to deliver both outcomes and to draw out the best in each individual child. Teachers know their students better than any test is likely to reveal.

League tables encourage "teaching to the test" and can distort the teaching and learning within a rounded curriculum. They are insensitive to both the needs and the overall achievements of the individual child. We believe that these tables should either be abandoned or at least be supplemented by other measures of school performance, including moderated teacher assessment.

Educating a child was once described as lighting a fire rather than filling a bucket. It is easy to measure how full a bucket is, but what really matters is the temperature of the fire.

Richard Morris