Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160-175)|
MBE MP AND JIM
10 OCTOBER 2007
Q160 Mr Chaytor: Are there specific
examples you can give us of the way in which a more creative approach
could be deployed, or ways in which particular forms of learning
could develop in Key Stage 3 that would maintain motivation and
Jim Knight: The one example that
I have seen, which actually was a younger age groupthese
were Key Stage 2 students but you could see it working at Key
Stage 3 as wellwas in Wolverhampton where a class were
using hand-held devices to create animations of their science
experiments. Now, that embeds scientific knowledge, but it is
fantastically creative at the same timeand was, incidentally,
good in terms of their IT skills. That sort of delivery across
a range of things and using skills that are developed in one part
of the curriculum to embed knowledge in another part of the curriculum
is the sort of thing that we are now creating the space to do
from September of next year.
Q161 Chairman: Minister, when I said
you did not show your normal passion on this subject, is it because,
when we took evidence on sustainable schools, what we were finding
was that we had people who would come and say that, you know,
the day of the class of 25 students with a teacher at the whiteboard
was gone; for students to learn in the future there were going
to be totally new, innovative ways of teaching and learning in
the 21st Century? Even when we went out, it was quite difficult
to find examples of that. You have read that report. Do you find
the same difficulty? Is that why you are a little reluctant to
jump aboard the creativity bandwagon?
Jim Knight: I would like to think
I am fully signed up and on board the bandwagon, if you like,
but I do think that as we develop personalisation, as we try and
learn from what Christine Gilbert reported at the beginning of
the year and try and deliver something that is more involving
of pupils, more engaging with them and that allows each one to
fulfil their potential, there is a lot to be done around CPD and
the pedagogy that goes along with that. To some extent we see,
with technology in a similar way, that it is quite a big ask of
teachers for them, to some extent, to give up some of their control,
because most young people know more about how to use the bits
of kit than they do, and they have got to start to learn a bit
more from the pupils about how to use it and the potential of
it, while still hanging on to their core business around knowledge
and releasing creativity. Being able to let go and free up young
people, working together and individually, to really have that
spark will be part of personalisation or will be part of the new
Q162 Mr Chaytor: Finally, Minister,
following the press reports earlier this week, will you personally
be adopting a creative approach to the review of grammar school
Jim Knight: What a creative way
Q163 Chairman: That is a classic
Chaytor-ismbut we still want an answer!
Jim Knight: I am grateful for
the opportunity to clarify where we are at with this. We are unambiguous
in saying that we do not want to impose a solution on anyone;
that it is entirely, and should properly remain, the business
of parents locally to decide, where they have got selection, whether
or not they want that to continue. As the Committee knows, we
had a report and, to some extent, we commissioned the report on
the back of what the Committee asked us to do, around the balloting
process. That said that it was expensive, because of the requirement
around drawing up the electoral roll, effectively, for the ballotit
was a very expensive processand raised some questions for
us about whether or not we should look at that and whether or
not the subsequent parts were fair for parents. That is something
that we are looking at. I do not have a timetable on it. I made
a couple of comments during party conference at Bournemouth in
some meetings on this and the acute interest that everyone takes
in anything to do with grammar schools has then created the story.
That is just simply where we are at.
Q164 Mr Carswell: On the question
of the future of the creative partnerships scheme (I may have
missed something), in terms of deciding whether or not there is
enough money to fund this system and the scheme in future, is
it you who decides or someone in the Treasury?
Jim Knight: The Treasury have
allocated settlements to both Departments. It is now up to the
two Departments together.
Q165 Mr Carswell: So it is you?
Jim Knight: Yes, it is myself
and Margaret, the two Secretaries of State.
Q166 Mr Carswell: Changing tack slightly,
have you heard of Bishops Park College in Clacton in my constituency?
Jim Knight: Is this the one that
is relatively new in build terms?
Q167 Mr Carswell: Correct.
Jim Knight: And that the County
Council, because it is their decision, have got to make some decisions
around its future?
Q168 Mr Carswell: Some may say that.
Would you say that you are familiar with it?
Jim Knight: If the detail was
in my mind it is very firmly buried.
Q169 Mr Carswell: It would be unfair
for me to ask you a question.
Jim Knight: All I know, Douglas,
around it is that as a Department we will have provided the money
for its building, and a very fine building I am sure it is too,
but issues of school organisation are very much the responsibility
of the local authority, and in this case Essex County Council.
Mr Carswell: No further questions, thank
Q170 Fiona Mactaggart: You were talking
about this programme in the context of your personalisation agenda,
and saying that that might require different ways of teaching
that actually gave more responsibility to children, and that perhaps
creative partnershipsbringing in another professional rather
than the teachermight make that kind of teaching more possible.
Do you think?
Jim Knight: It might do. What
I was driving at, and Christine was quite explicit about it, was
that involving pupils more in their learning and the decisions
around their learning was part of what personalisation is about,
and that involves letting go, to some extent. So there is that
bit that I was talking about. It may be that the sort of involvement
that we get from creative practitioners, in CPD terms across the
curriculum, will help that; will help our professional teachers
to tap into their own creativity in their pedagogy so that they
can deliver ever more creative lessons and stimulate more creative
learning on behalf of the pupils.
Q171 Fiona Mactaggart: One of the
areas of criticism of the programme suggested that it implies
that creativity is the unique preserve of the arts. Does the Department
run any programmes in any other field which sponsor professionals
to go into the classroom and work collaboratively with teachers?
Jim Knight: Playing for Success
does it differently, in that you are taking pupils into sporting
environmentsmostly Premiership football but Lord's Cricket
Ground and a number of other sports, even a bowling club in one
casebut that is working alongside professionals or working
in a professional environment to stimulate and engage people;
engage them with their learning as well as engaging them in sport.
So that would be one, I guess, similar example where we have a
discrete programme that is delivering for us. However, there may
be others and I am very happy to write if we have other examples
that we can offer you.
Q172 Fiona Mactaggart: One thing
that many people say about education is that what matters is what
is assessedwhat is counted.
Jim Knight: Yes.
Q173 Fiona Mactaggart: One of the
difficulties that I think we encounter in this programme, where
a lot of the assessment of it is that it helps with things like
risk taking, team workthose creative skillsis that
at the moment we do not have very effective tools to assess those
kinds of things. All of us around here accept that the business
world today really wants those qualities in its workforce. Is
the Department doing any work on how you can assess those kinds
Jim Knight: It is certainly something
that we think about. When you look at things like the extended
project at A level that we are introducing, and some aspects of
the Diploma design, they are trying to create outputs that are
assessableif that is a wordbut there is a sort of
pre-condition that you have to be a fairly creative thinker to
do really well at them; it is not just down to hard work and cramming
facts; you have got to be able to think creatively and work creatively
to do some of those projects. The more we can work that through
the better. As I said before, what I would be reluctant to do,
unless someone showed me good evidence otherwise, is to say to
assessment people: "Find ways of measuring things that are
not easily measurable", because I think you stifle the creativity
right from the word go. There may be outputs at the end in the
same way, I guess, as a music grading exam; if you can play a
certain piece then that implies you have a whole range of other
skills and that you have been through a process of learning that
you can easily assess in other ways, but just the mastery of that
piece of music is sufficient for us to be able to imply that you
have these other skills.
Q174 Chairman: Minister, is the bit
of reluctance that we are picking up on this that as Schools Minister
you see your responsibility as changing the culture of schools
in a positive direction? Stepping back from any particular programme,
some of the evidence we have got is from people saying: "Look,
this is quite a well-resourced programme but we have been doing
creativity of our own in a different way for a long time".
Is this not the time to kind of step back and discuss it between
Departments and say: "If our real aim is to change the culture
of schools so they are more creative environments, what are the
elements and do they add up to a sum that will change the culture?"
Is that not where we are?
Jim Knight: Yes, I think designing
an enhanced cultural offer, if you like, requires us to do that.
Margaret talked about what we are doing in sport and five hours
of PE, and that is part of trying to create the culture around
more activity amongst young people. Five hours of PE is very important
and will be great but that is not the only thing that will create
more activity amongst young people. Similarly, we can do things
around levers that we have got on the curriculum, and perhaps
we can do more on the infrastructure that we offer through creative
partnerships. However, creating a culture of more creativity across
the whole curriculum is wider than all of those things.
Q175 Chairman: I think that is a
good note on which to finish. Minister, thank you for being our
final witness. We look forward to seeing you in the future, in
Jim Knight: I look forward to
a continued relationship with the evolved Committee.
Chairman: Thank you.