Scoop – back to school edition

My termly newsletter,

We have all been besieged by articles on ‘how x will change post COVID-19’. I am yet to read anything really convincing on what will change in education: teaching; curriculums; exams; schooling in general: I’m not saying they shouldn’t change but I’ve seen little to convince me that they will. 

Keystone Scholarship

We successfully ran our first Keystone University Programme, helping bright children from under-resourced backgrounds apply to some of the UK’s top universities. One participating student wrote,

“I just want to say a big thank you to you and the rest of the team for the abundance of support, time and dedication in making the course intriguing, beneficial and educational, but also the time that has been spent simply on calls with me trying to help me make the best decision for myself! I really do appreciate the time you all have taken out of your busy schedule to help me.”

Having a team of full-time tutors allows us to pursue and commit to such projects, as well as support others. We were delighted to partner with Godolphin & Latymer’s Bridge Programme over the summer too.


Over the next few weeks, we have webinars on,

Please do push through that Zoom fatigue and come; and please feel free to pass on to anyone who would find them interesting.

We’re attracting good audience numbers, and are really keen to do more – so please let me know if you’d be interested in being involved in further events and we’ll do our best.

Homeschooling / Learning Pods

Are these an indication of innovations to come?

The New York Times and BBC reported on the phenomenon in the US of families setting up their own small schools with their neighbours, bringing in their own tutors and teachers. 

Our own homeschooling is growing, and we are offering our own version of the Pod service; it will be interesting to see what uptake is like.

Some pieces in the Critic

I took advantage of having a bit more time in lockdown (and the fact that the Critic is a new magazine on the lookout for new writers) to try to crystallize some inchoate thinking on the direction of independent sector today. They provoked a good response: mostly favourable but some trenchantly hostile! Do shout if you want to discuss any of them further,

If you want to read really good writing on education, David James, newly appointed Deputy Head of LEH, wrote some blistering pieces in the Critic here.

Career Education

I’ve been reading more about education & employability skills since a webinar we ran on the subject over the summer. I remain skeptical as to what employment has to say to the -18 curriculum for most schools, though David Goodhart’s recent book and Gavin Williamson’s rejection of Blair’s 50% university target does herald some fresh thinking on the subject of vocational education. 

My #1 source for all things graduate recruitment, James Darley, provides this update: 25% of Graduate Employers (ISE, June 2020) say they will be reducing their intakes in 2021. Let me know if an introduction to him would help with your work.

More broadly, with respect to the nexus of higher education and career support, it is hard not to conclude that HE faces headwinds on almost all fronts. I thought this news that Google is getting into the degree certification game was fascinating, but spells more trouble ahead for a beleaguered sector. 

David Attenborough in your classroom – first come first served opportunity!

I have been closely following, and in a very small way assisting with, the development of a new educational service for families called Itza. Here is an opportunity to get involved in their initial launch. Says the Founder,

“We’re about to launch Get Set, which includes a fun online quiz for schools – the GET SET GLOBAL CHALLENGE – which teaches children about sustainability and how to preserve the natural world.  Students prepare independently online by using footage from the new David Attenborough movie A LIFE ON OUR PLANET which is in cinemas next week and then comes out on Netflix next month.

We’re selecting 100 schools from around the world for this test and plan to have only 40 schools from the UK.   School registration is now OPEN and it’s first come, first served:

Materials are released to children in November and the final quiz will be on Friday December 4th and can be staged in the classroom as a live event or completed by students in their own time later that day.”  

Please do let me know any feedback.

Did you know?

Biden/Harris is the first Democratic ticket without an Ivy League degree since 1984.

(Biden was at the University of Delaware and Syracuse; Harris at Howard University and UC Hastings College of the Law.)

Educational Dispatches

  • Wild Research has a new report out on Exporting Educational Excellence featuring articles from many of the leading figures who have opened UK schools overseas.
  • I much enjoyed Harry Mount praising of ‘useless knowledge’ in the Spectator: how to avoid ‘the sort of mess you end up in if you’re constantly adapting your child’s education to a constantly changing world.’ (And this was a good, rare paean for Year 12!)
  • I find Daniel Markovits’ critique of meritocracy so compelling (he’s not the only one at it: David Goodhart and Michael Sandel’s recent books make similar points). Here is he talking about competitive schooling in the age of human capital. 
  • Ashbourne College is offering 100% bursaries for talented students in Music, Drama and English Literature. Very generous of them, and what a civilized choice of subjects. 
  • It was sad to see the passing of two titans of UK education, from somewhat opposite ends of the spectrum (although, in many ways, not as much as you’d think), Sir Eric Anderson and Sir Ken Robinson
  • Oh and it seems ages ago now but this was the best piece I read on The Mutant Algorithm. But will lessons be learned for next year? Hmmm.

Published by willorrewing

I run Keystone Tutors, and a summer nature + creativity camp called The Imaginarium.

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