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Dear Leighton,

My dad always says he doesn’t do the “I told you so” stuff. He hates people doing it to him, and it doesn’t help the situation. So I won’t either. About ten or so years ago a group of us physics teachers went to see Jane who was then in charge of education in Wales, allegedly. We pointed out that a problem was heading the way of Wales and that action then would have averted it for modest amounts. Jane wasn’t interested. A few years ago a report on Wales highlighted the exact problems we said were coming. Of course the solution now costs so much more.

Then today we have this: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/estyn-warning-science-teaching-wales-4045215

So Leighton, I hate to say it, but this is your fault. It has to be your fault because you’re in charge. The solution to this problem is in fact pretty simple, has been shown to produce results and doesn’t cost a lot. In fact, it won’t cost anything because the impact on the economy a few years down the line will mean Wales will end up better off.

If the solution then is available, and you don’t apply it, then it really can’t be anyone’s fault but yours.

All the information is available: http://www.stimulatingphysics.org/news.htm

Of course the really great thing to do would be to set up networks for other subjects as well. With only around 230 secondary schools in Wales you only need around 5 x 0.1 FTE for global support and then you have as much bespoke support as you think is needed. This works out to around 0.4 FTE per dozen schools. So if we went for two dozen schools, or around 10%, that’s 0.8 FTE. Per subject that works out to around 1.3 FTE plus some admin, per subject. That’s less than £100k per subject per year. For ten subjects it would be around the million pound mark, a tiny sum in national terms.

For primary schools you could apply the same model. That really would be a big bold step. We might then end up with Wales having a CPD system that was a world leader. Run by teachers, for teachers.

Then when the curriculum changes training would be provided. But of course you’d be able to get feedback from teachers so those changes would be largely agreed upon. Stimulating Physics has reached over 65% of state schools in England, and the number is rising.

If you provide a comprehensive CPD system you can provide accreditation too so you know your teachers are good. Then when Mr Gove does his I levels you can watch as a rebadged qualification disappears while the Welsh PISA results climb. Of course the cool thing is that if you do it Leighton, then that will also be your fault.


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June 2013
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