Evidence heard in Public

Questions 1 - 62


1 . This is a corrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.

2. The transcript is an approved formal record of these proceedings. It will be printed in due course.

Oral Evidence

Taken before the Education Committee

on Tuesday 21 June 2011

Members present:

Mr Graham Stuart (Chair)

Neil Carmichael

Nic Dakin

Bill Esterson

Pat Glass

Damian Hinds

Charlotte Leslie

Ian Mearns

Tessa Munt

Craig Whittaker

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Aysha Begum, Ricki Bourne, Ronnie Crosland, Angelique Knight, Nana Kwame and Carl West, students from "Jamie’s Dream School", gave evidence.

Q1 Chair: I welcome you all and thank you for coming in to join us this morning. We are the Education Select Committee. We have Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament, and our job is to look at what Government policy is in education, and other issues affecting young people. In this Parliament, we are taking a particular interest in the pathways and options that are there for people who do not necessarily do well in GCSEs. That is a particular reason why we are interested in Dream School, and what it can do for people like yourselves, who did not do particularly well at GCSE, but have a lot to offer. So, what is the best thing that you got out of Dream School? Aysha, can I start with you?

Aysha Begum: The experience. We did a lot of cool stuff that we weren’t able to do in school. We learned a lot, academically and about life. We got to meet other students who were in the same position as ourselves, which was really good, because at times we thought that we were alone. There were too many good experiences-I can’t really think of just one.

Q2 Chair: The Dream School seemed to bring out talent that had not been picked up at school-with Carl, for example. What was it about Dream School that helped bring things out of you that maybe were not recognised before? Ricki?

Ricki Bourne: Obviously, the teachers we had were experts in their field, so I think that, because they were so clever about what they did, they passed on some of how they felt about it all. They moved that on to us, and then, obviously, we felt more good about it.

Q3 Chair: What about you, Carl? What was special about Dream School?

Carl West: Special?

Chair: Yes-what brought things out of you that maybe school had not?

Carl West: It has opened a lot more doors for me. I’ve learned a lot from it, and grown up a lot from it. When you are taught something by someone who’s not a teacher, it’s completely different, because they teach it in their own way, not the system’s way. So it makes it a lot more fun and entertaining, and you actually want to learn.

Q4 Chair: That is what Jamie said, wasn’t it? He thought that one of the big lessons was to take the rules off teachers so they could more easily enthuse-

Carl West: Yeah, because-carry on.

Chair: No, go on.

Carl West: No, carry on.

Chair: No, you do a better job.

Carl West: Go on. Carry on, because I’m lost.

Q5 Chair: I was going to say that Jamie had made the same point you made, that it was partly taking the rules off, and teachers were able to do it as they wanted to.

Carl West: Yeah, they could just do their own thing, and by doing their own thing, you know, it was a lot of fun.

Chair: Angelique?

Angelique Knight: Hi.

Q6 Chair: Did you get a lot out of dream school?

Angelique Knight: Yeah. I got, like-with the teachers, yeah? Obviously they don’t know what they’re doing, so they’re just as scared as us. And we did a lot of lessons that normal schools don’t do, so it opened lots of doors for us, because we was finding out what we was good at, whereas in school you’ve got a really strict curriculum and the teachers have to follow it, so obviously you could be good at something but you don’t know because you don’t do them lessons in school.

In school I was so bored, because I was sitting there thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is so dead, like, I just want to go home". Because you’re doing lessons that you’re not interested in, that probably won’t help you in the future. When you go into Tesco, they’re not going to ask you what x equals. It’s not going to happen. It’s just so boring, to be honest.

Q7 Chair: But somehow Dream School wasn’t?

Angelique Knight: No, because we were learning things we would use in the future. Like, Jamie taught us how to cook, so if it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t have a house, I probably would have burnt it down. Because obviously I’m going to use that in the future. We got taught how to use amazing stuff.

People are just saying, "Oh, but normal schools can’t do this, because we don’t have the funding." Well, instead of paying £6 billion for an aeroplane, why don’t you put it into schools?

Q8 Nic Dakin: You have all had experience of mainstream schools and then experience of Jamie’s Dream School. What advice would you be giving to somebody going into teaching, to get the best out of people like you, based on your experience?

Aysha Begum: Don’t be afraid. Because I think with some teachers, because they’re so afraid of the students, they kind of hold back, and they get really defensive, really quickly, and I think if you’re like, just free and natural around kids, they will just warm up to you.

Carl West: You have to try and connect with the kids.

Aysha Begum: Communicate

Carl West: Yeah, communicate with the kids and connect with them. And try to teach it in your own way, teach whatever it is in your own way, I’m sure that they’ll listen a lot more. And try and make it fun.

Q9 Nic Dakin: So, what has connected with you, Carl?

Carl West: Well, I just engaged with the teachers because they taught me everything. Certain lessons I didn’t like in mainstream school, like science and maths, but because it was taught to me by fun people, they taught it to me in their own way, so I wanted to learn. And I actually looked forward to that lesson, and, you know, it was a lot of fun.

Q10 Nic Dakin: So don’t be afraid; connect with people. What about you, Ronnie?

Ronnie Crosland: The first thing that the teachers have got to achieve is the respect of the students. As soon as you’ve got mutual respect, and understanding, between each other, that’s when you can go forward. If the teachers don’t connect with the students-like, at mainstream school, I was put aside on one side of the classroom because I was working at D or below, and the students that were working C to A* were put on the other side, and the attention was put towards them a lot more, rather than the people who actually needed it. When the respect is earned between the teachers and the students, that’s when you can go forward together and actually achieve something that’s worthwhile.

Q11 Nic Dakin: We’ve just seen a little video, and someone said that a mainstream school told them what we couldn’t do, but Jamie’s School told them what they can do. Is that-

Ronnie Crosland: It gave you a lot more flexibility, at Dream School. You was able to do things that the door was shut on you at mainstream. The door was opened at Dream School and you was able to venture into that side.

Q12 Nic Dakin: Advice for teachers?

Nana Kwame: I would say, don’t talk down to people, and treat everyone equally, because if you do that, they’ll respect you more, and you’ll be able to get along much better.

Q13 Nic Dakin: So you are agreeing with Ronnie’s point about respect. Ricki?

Ricki Bourne: Yeah, I think that mutual respect is a big deal to most people, and a lot of students feel that teachers talk down to them, whereas in Dream School, a couple of the teachers did, but most of them didn’t talk down. That’s the main reason why it achieved so much.

Q14 Nic Dakin: Were there teachers in mainstream school that respected you?

Ricki Bourne: Yeah, obviously there are a few teachers that respect all students the same. But then I think there are a lot of teachers in mainstream schools which do talk down to students.

Angelique Knight: Do you know what, right? I would say smile. Be happy. Why do you have to look like the world is ending? I hate when people are not happy. You should always be smiling. I am always-no, I’m not always smiling, when I am hungry I’m not smiling, but most of the time-I am always smiling. Why can’t people smile? Teachers are never smiling. I know they are stressed. Fair enough, they might be having a bad day whatever, but smile, be happy. I used to walk into the room and the teacher used to look like the world was ending. She looked so unhappy it used to make me feel unhappy. If you see someone that is unhappy, it makes you feel unhappy, innit? You feel unhappy. So just smile. Obviously, you might walk in and a student might be rude to you, but just be like okay, watch when I catch you, but don’t do that. Otherwise be happy, that is my advice to teachers.

Bill Esterson (Sefton Central) (Lab): I really enjoyed the series. For my wife and I, it was our one moment of television every week.

Angelique Knight: Oh, that’s nice.

Bill Esterson: So thank you all for that.

Angelique Knight: Thanks for watching.

Bill Esterson: It was a pleasure. Do you think that other schools have got things to learn from this that they can realistically do very simply? Angelique, you made the point about 6 billion quid on an aircraft. That’s probably not going to happen. What can schools do that worked really well for you with what they have got now?

Angelique Knight: When I was naughty in school I just used to get put to one side. People think that you can put all the naughty kids together and all the good kids together. That doesn’t work because we feel like we’re outcasts. We don’t feel like we belong. School is supposed to be like your second home because you spend more time there than you do at home. I don’t think that works. I used to get put in a room just by myself with four walls. That doesn’t work and people should stop doing it. Go to the student, ask them what’s wrong, try and offer them help for whatever is going on in their home life and see if you can get to the bottom of the problem as to why they’re misbehaving. Another thing is to do more fun stuff, things that kids will use when they’re older. I am not saying scrap x = y, because obviously we need that, but do more fun stuff, stuff that is more relevant to everyday life, like life skills and home economics and things like that.

Bill Esterson: So you learn more when it’s fun?

Angelique Knight: Yes, and practical. More kids nowadays are good with their hands so they don’t want to be sitting there copying off the board. They want to be doing stuff that they can proper get in and get dirty, and stuff like that.

Ricki Bourne: Obviously, in mainstream schools we can’t all have as amazing teachers as Dream School did. You can’t change the standard of the teachers which you’ve got. Science is a subject that I enjoyed in school, especially biology, but then when we did it with Lord Winston we had better things to do with it so everyone enjoyed it much more than they did at school. Yes, more practical work. Most kids enjoy practical work and are hands-on and they learn more through that.

Bill Esterson: We’ve got fun and practical so far.

Nana Kwame: What I’d say is, instead of doing everything like sitting down for six hours a day behind a textbook, like- Say English, literally, if you’re learning Shakespeare, reading the whole book about it is boring. Take a kid to the Globe theatre-it don’t cost much, you can get in for free-take them out on a field trip, let them see it for themselves and they will learn a lot more than sitting in a classroom. After the classroom, once they go out they’re forgetting it, because they’re bored. But if you take them to the Globe theatre and show them about it, they will understand it and remember it a lot more. That’s a free trip that you can do and it’s practical.

Bill Esterson: Ronnie, what one thing could other schools learn from your experiences?

Ronnie Crosland: When I was at school, like Nana Kwame just said, working from a textbook for the best part of the day was tough because it is just the same thing over and over and over rather than going out, doing practical work. Like at school when we did science it was a textbook, all the way through GCSE, but with Lord Winston we was doing practical. We was hands-on. We was looking beyond the textbook, we was going inside what was in front of us.

Bill Esterson: So mix it up, bring it to life.

Ronnie Crosland: Yes. Bring it to life a bit. It grabs people’s attention, especially if you’ve got a classroom of kids who are a bit rowdy and a bit mischievous, if you put something in front of them to do, hands-on, it occupies their mind, gets their mind working, and makes them feel involved rather than being shut out.

Q15 Damian Hinds: Thank you very much for joining us this morning. Following on from what Bill was saying, what we do is listen to people and take notes and then try to find things that we can advise the education system to do through the Department for Education. So, the really important thing, I guess, from this morning, is to try to get your ideas, as Bill was saying, for what other schools can do.

One aspect, as Nic mentioned, is about teachers and who they are and so on, and you are right: I think it was Angelique who said that you can’t have the same celebrities as teachers in every school as you did in Dream School. But you can have brilliant teachers, and there are lots of brilliant teachers in the country. I wonder what your advice would be about how the Government or local authorities or whoever it is should go about picking who is good to be a teacher and encouraging the people who would be best at teaching to do it. Can we start with Aysha?

Aysha Begum: First of all, obviously I’m not going to sit here and say who is best fit to be a teacher because I’m not really qualified to say that.

Damian Hinds: Well you are in many ways.

Aysha Begum: Not really. But I think with some teachers you just have that- In some ways it’s what Angelique said, you just need to be happy and love what you need to do. If you’re there and you just have a qualification, to me that’s not good enough. You need more than just a qualification to say you can teach this. Most of the teachers in Dream School probably do have qualifications in their field, and they’re great in their field, and that’s what makes them good. [Interruption.] Yes, unique. They are not teachers. They didn’t go to university to learn how to be a teacher, but still they were good at it. You need to think about the difference between them and teachers in mainstream schools. They love what they do.

Damian Hinds: Ricki, what do you think?

Ricki Bourne: I’m sorry. About what?

Damian Hinds: About how the Government or whoever it is should go about finding the people who are going be the best teachers, and then encouraging them to go into teaching.

Ricki Bourne: If someone wants to be a teacher they want to be a teacher. You can’t make someone want to be a teacher, can you? They have to do a teaching exam, don’t they, so they can teach what they’ve got their degree in. They need to pass that, but they need to be happy and easy going, and be able to take a bit of-yes.

Angelique Knight: I think that a piece of paper doesn’t say whether you can be a teacher. You need to have it in here; you need to love what you do. The teachers we had weren’t even teachers, to be fair, but they genuinely loved what they did. Mary Beard teaches a language that no one speaks any more, but she loves it. She’s so happy-look at her face. She’s so happy. She loves it. I think that most teachers nowadays don’t do what they do because they love it; they do it because they want the money or something-I don’t know. But obviously you need to have it in here that you want to teach kids, that you want to do this. Most teachers just don’t like it anymore; they just do it because it’s a job.

Q16 Damian Hinds: This is for anyone on the panel: what do you think might stop people who do have that passion and that happiness and are able to take a bit of the other as well and love their subject from becoming teachers?

Nana Kwame: Teaching is a low-paid job. That’s one of the main reasons. At my old school my teachers kept on telling us that it’s not even worth teaching no more; it’s not a lot of money. If you increase the salary that teachers get and make it a bit more appealing, you’ll get a lot more teachers who are passionate about what they do, and love doing it.

Ronnie Crosland: It might sound stupid in me saying this but there are not enough teachers. Many times when I was at high school we were left standing at the door for 20 minutes waiting for a supply teacher to arrive, and that cuts out a lot of what we could learn. If you add all those minutes up, it would take away a good couple of months of what you could be learning. There are too many supply teachers and not enough proper qualified teachers.

Q17 Charlotte Leslie: Thanks very much for coming along. I have a question about before you went to Dream School. When you weren’t doing well at school and things were going wrong, did anyone ever take you aside and say, "Is everything all right?" and did anyone ever try to understand what you were going through and why you might not have been enjoying school or getting on with it? To what extent did someone say, "What is going on in your life and can I help?"

Aysha Begum: I didn’t do well in my GCSEs, but somehow I got into college, and no one really asked me about my life in school, so I’ve just gone on with a smile on my face, acting all jolly, and no one asked me, "How was it?", "Was it good?" or "How are you feeling?" It is not the type of question you would get from teachers because they don’t really care-"We’re here to teach you. Just sit down, be quiet and do your thing. Look at the textbook, write from it and go home. We don’t care about your life at home. Come here, learn something and then go."

Angelique Knight: I’ve always got something to say, innnit? Sorry.

Teachers nowadays feel that it’s not their problem. Teachers are not councillors-"Why should we ask you what’s going on? It’s not our problem. We’re just here to teach you maths and English." Do you know what I mean? There are so many restrictions, like, my teacher-I fell over and was bleeding, my knee was gushing blood-the man couldn’t even touch me, because there are so many rules and regulations. You can’t go up to someone and be like, "Oh, what’s wrong?" because, these times, the next thing is they’ll be screaming, "Rape!" Teachers are not allowed to do that. Wasn’t there that dinner lady that told the girl’s parents that she was being bullied? Does anyone remember that or is it just me? Didn’t she get fired? You can’t do that. Do you remember what I’m talking about? You know what I’m talking about. Obviously, teachers are not councillors. They don’t care. They’ll refer you to someone, then to another person and two years later you’ll be on the waiting list. Do you know what I mean? That’s why teachers probably don’t ask you. They’re probably not allowed, to be honest.

Q18 Charlotte Leslie: Do you think that teachers are sometimes scared to care because of the rules?

Ronnie Crosland: Personally, my deputy head teacher at high school, Mr Brown, was always checking up on me to see if I was okay. Walking through the corridors, a little "Hello" or "How are you?" helps you along a lot through a day. He would always invite me to his office to have a bit of a chat and maybe a cup of tea to talk things through, to see how I am, and discuss my personal life and make sure that everything was okay. That was a man at the very top of the education tree at high school. My head teacher was the same. They’re very busy people, but these people took time out to talk to me to see if I was okay.

Nana Kwame: I would say personally that teachers don’t have enough time because, if you think about it, there are 30 kids per class, they teach six classes per day. They don’t really have enough time to get personal to one-on-one to everyone, so I think that is one of the major reasons why teachers don’t find out what’s wrong with you. After each class, they’ve got another class so they can’t talk to you afterwards. During break, they need their little break to mark paperwork and stuff. I would say that if you want teachers to get personal, you should either get more teachers or give them a longer lunch break or less paperwork to do.

Aysha Begum: Or cut the number of students in each class.

Carl West: In my school, when it was lunch break, I used to go home. I used to be on a two hour split timetable-two hours a week. It’ll be lunch break and the teachers won’t be marking paperwork, they’ll be outside having a fag. [Interruption.]

Angelique Knight: I’m really sorry.

Carl West: She’s lost me. I get distracted easily. Can you repeat the question?

Charlotte Leslie: We were talking about teachers having too much paperwork and not having time to care.

Carl West: I know that bit, but I want to reply to your question. Can you repeat the question please?

Charlotte Leslie: We’re going back quite a bit now and I’ve forgotten my question.

Carl West: Just carry on; it’s all right.

Charlotte Leslie: I think I asked way back if you think that there are so many rules that they are scared to care, and then we went on and said that there might be too much paperwork and too many students. Aysha said that there are so many students and teachers have so much to do that they don’t have time to go the extra mile. You said that sometimes some of your teachers were outside having a fag.

Carl West: They was, on their lunch breaks. I think that you should have teachers and then a set of support teachers for your problems, because in my school, when I was having problems at home, I would tell a teacher and she would just push me straight through the councillor’s door, and I didn’t want to go to a councillor. They just say, "I know how you feel," but you don’t, you really don’t know how I feel because you’re not me. When you have someone to talk to, like, you know-I’m going to stop there because I’m making myself look like an idiot.

Q19 Pat Glass: In some respects, you had the best of both worlds: you had teachers at the Dream School-

Angelique Knight: Can’t hear you babe, sorry.

Pat Glass: Sorry. You had the best of both worlds in some respects. At the Dream School, you had teachers who were real experts, but they also had personality. What do you think is most important-that the teacher is a real expert in their subject, or that they like teaching, they like young people, they have respect for young people?

Carl West: I think both are. To have a big personality is a big thing. People like big personalities. If you really know what you’re doing, and what you’re teaching, you’re going to teach it in your own way, aren’t you, because you know the ways around it.

Q20 Pat Glass: But if you had to choose, Carl-if you were doing history and you had two teachers, one who you knew was a real expert in history, and one who was a great guy and you got along with, which one would you choose?

Carl West: I’d have to go for the first one. But if you could put them both together, I would, if you know what I mean. If you could have both of them in the lesson, both teachers of the class, that’s what I would do.

Nana Kwame: You can’t really pick between the two. If you think about it, if you’re saying the one with no personality is very good, he’s going to know what he’s talking about, but everyone’s going to be bored of him, so they’re not going to listen. On the other hand, if the guy’s got a good personality, but don’t have a clue what he’s doing, we will be talking to him for the whole lesson, we will not learn anything. So you can’t pick between the two-you need someone in the middle, who knows what they’re talking about, has a good personality, can get along with you, and still be your friend, but still be a teacher at the same time.

Pat Glass: So both are equally important.

Nana Kwame: Equal, yes.

Q21 Pat Glass: Can I ask you about your plans now that you have the Dream School scholarship-what difference has that made to your plans?

Angelique Knight: The thing I was most scared of when Dream School finished was going back to my old ways, just sitting in my house, chilling with my friends-no one will ever understand how scared I was of just going back and doing nothing. I think all of us were scared of that. But obviously, with the money we got, it helped us a lot, because some of us were able to go back to college. We were all 16 to 18, but I think when you get to 18, you’ve got to pay for college and that. I’ve started my childcare diploma, so soon I’ll be qualified to work with kids. Without it, I’d probably still be sitting in my house. I know the money has helped so much, but it’s not even just about the money-we learned so much, and we couldn’t waste it. You can’t just have an experience like that and go back to just sitting in your house, just wasting it-it would have been a complete waste of my time, and I would have been so angry. Why are you looking at me like that?

Pat Glass: Does anyone else want to tell us what their plans are?

Carl West: My plans are, I’ve started a music course, and I’m going to be restarting it in July. I’m hopefully starting an acting course in July as well. I’m resitting my GCSEs, and, at the minute, I’m actually filming with MTV. It’s a good life plan.

Q22 Pat Glass: So is everyone pleased that they did this? Is there anybody who thinks, "Gosh, if I had my time again, I wouldn’t do that’?

Carl West: If I hadn’t of done it, I probably would have still been in my music course that I was at before, which was a free music course, fair enough. It was good, but it wasn’t good enough. The teachers there didn’t really teach you anything. They just dumped you in front of a computer and said "Make music," but that’s not what I want.

Nana Kwame: I wouldn’t do it again, because I think they should have added more stuff into the TV that they never shown.

Q23 Chair: Tell us about that. Were the best bits not shown on telly?

Nana Kwame: I would say the best bits were really not shown on TV.

Carl West: That’s true.

Nana Kwame: To get 100%, you have to watch the YouTube.

Carl West: That’s true-I worked so hard.

Nana Kwame: That’s what I’m saying. I was working hard and they never showed it.

Carl West: You ask Professor Winston, I cut that rat open perfectly, didn’t I? I removed its bowel. But, there were a lot of things that we actually achieved, that we’re actually really proud of, we never thought we’d ever do, but those clips just weren’t shown on telly.

Angelique Knight: We carried on running, you know. It was amazing. Ten hours.

Carl West: Pen y Fan. Ten hours, eight hundred and eighty something metres.

Q24 Pat Glass: The bits where you worked hard and achieved do not make good TV, so we did not get to see them.

Angelique Knight: They did show some bits. They showed your picture, innit Carl, but I think they should’ve shown the mountain, because that was a real life journey.

Carl West: I did quite a few pictures. I actually did a portrait of Rolf Harris, but they didn’t show that. Did you see it-on the TV?

Angelique Knight: Do you know what? I think they should put us in schools.

Carl West: We should be the teachers for a day. We should try it.

Angelique Knight: I don’t know about that. I think they should put us in schools. Obviously, if we go round, we could tour the country and give our opinion to teachers. We would sit down and talk to teachers, tell them what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. To be fair, I know teachers can be a bit out of order sometimes, but I think they deserve more praise for what they do. I won’t lie: I couldn’t be a teacher; I’d kill somebody-I’d kill either myself or one of the students. Honestly, I couldn’t do it. I think they should put us in schools. I don’t know about you lot, but I should definitely be in schools.

Q25 Tessa Munt: I was a teacher in a previous life. How daunting do you think it is-how frightening do you think it might be to stand in front of a group of students-

Angelique Knight: S**t yourself, innit? It’s true.

Q26 Tessa Munt: Perfectly put. Have you thought, since you were in Dream School, about how you were in school before and how difficult it might be to teach a group of 30 students, some of whom are quite interested in learning, and some of whom have lots of problems and things that are stopping them learning?

Angelique Knight: Personally, I feel really bad. I made a teacher cry; that must be awful. She’s a grown woman, and I made her cry. I feel so bad. When I look back on Dream School, I feel bad, because I was so rude sometimes. Like, obviously, if you lot have watched it, you’ll probably have seen what I said to Alastair.

Chair: He did not cry, though. It is a matter of regret to some of us.

Angelique Knight: That was so cheeky.

Q27 Tessa Munt: If you went back into ordinary school-take yourself back, having had this experience, and being 13 again, would you be different now in class?

Angelique Knight: No. I know you were expecting me to say yes, but I just feel that my outlook on life now is so different. I just feel that everything happens for a reason. If I had been good in school, I wouldn’t have had this amazing experience and I wouldn’t be where I am now.

Q28 Tessa Munt: I do not really mean that, Angelique.

Angelique Knight: Yes, I would.

Q29 Tessa Munt: What I am asking you is, knowing what you know now, would things be different if you went into ordinary school again?

Angelique Knight: I wouldn’t be so rude. Everybody has their own problems, do you know what I mean? Teachers are probably so stressed about mortgages, their home life, their kids and things like that. We just go into school, we’re bad because we’re stressed about stuff and we just put more stress on them. I feel so bad, like, the way I treated some of my teachers and the way I was so rude to them. I am surprised I’m still alive; they probably would have killed me.

Q30 Chair: Can we quickly go to Ronnie, because you are actually going into schools to talk to people, aren’t you?

Ronnie Crosland: Yes. I’ve been going into local primary schools just before the pupils started their SATs to inspire them to maybe do what I didn’t do. I didn’t really want to take the whole experience for granted. I felt a bit greedy going into it, with all the opportunities I’ve had, and because of all the other people who could have those opportunities, who were maybe more deserving than myself. I didn’t really want to take it for granted, so I’ve tried to share my time out between as many schools as I can. I wanted to inspire the younger people.

Carl West: A lot of people said on the Channel 4 website how inspirational we all are, so I think it would help if we all visited schools like you do. Do you know what I mean? Then they can talk to us about their problems. They might have been through the same sort of stuff. If they’re not doing well in school-they’ve clearly seen how we was on the TV, so if they need someone to talk to, we should arrange some sort of visiting day.

Angelique Knight: Yes.

Ricki Bourne: I’ve had a lot of messages on Twitter and Facebook-really long, heartfelt messages from young people in schools-talking about how us on Dream School made them want to achieve more in school. I thought that was a bit weird at first, but it’s amazing how, just from watching a show, someone can be so inspired to achieve more things.

Angelique Knight: Do you know, I had a grown man come up to me and ask me how he can stop his daughter going down the road that I went down. This is a grown man with three kids. He came up to me and asked me for advice. I felt so special. I wanted to cry.

Q31 Tessa Munt: Don’t you think it is marvellous because you are the ambassadors who can show everyone how it can go right. I want to ask quickly, you mentioned that you tried to speak to your teachers about what was going on in your life and they bunged you towards counselling. Clearly you had chosen to speak to that teacher?

Carl West: I had chosen to, yeah. I didn’t want to speak to my parents, I didn’t want to speak to a counsellor, or any sort of psychologist.

Q32 Tessa Munt: So maybe we need in some way to look at that?

Carl West: I just wanted to talk to my teacher. But no, I just got passed straight to the counsellors.

Chair: You have all been brilliant and a fantastic example, not only on education generally, but in particular to the people who are coming next, who I hope will give answers as short and to the point as you have. It will put them under a lot of pressure having heard how brilliant you have been today. We have got through so much in a short time, I can tell you how rare that is when we sit here with a big panel.

Q33 Neil Carmichael: Do you think one of the big differences was the fact that the teachers at the Dream School were showing interest and concern in you, more than you had ever experienced in the mainstream school system?

Aysha Begum: Sorry, could you say that again, I could not hear you. I am deaf in one ear.

Q34 Neil Carmichael: Funnily enough, so am I. I am deaf in my left ear. Do you think that one of the key differences was that the teachers at the Dream School were really showing interest in and concern about you, as opposed to your experience at mainstream or normal schools?

Aysha Begum: They tried to get to know us, even while they were teaching us. Jazzie B was teaching us music, Alistair Campbell politics-they were teaching us, but after lessons we would go to the canteen and just talk. The teachers would ask us about our experiences and some of them would ask "What can I do? How can I be better for you and for other people in the class?". Obviously everybody is different and that is the one thing people keep missing. Every student isn’t the same. Some see and get things really quickly but another person might be able to write an essay, and someone might like to talk about it rather than write it. The teachers in Dream School really got to know what helped us learn more quickly and much better than what we did at mainstream school. That was a big thing.

Nana Kwame: I would have to agree with that, because in Dream School when someone is upset, crying, didn’t want to come in-after the first few weeks a lot of people started crying that they didn’t want to come to Dream School-people like John D’Abbro went up to them, spoke to them, asked if they were okay, everyday checked they were all right, if they had eaten, if they wanted lunch, even if they came in late he would let them go and eat. In the mainstream school they don’t talk to you, they don’t care about you, they don’t even really want to know you. They just want you to come to the classroom and get out. In Dream School, teachers wanted to get you more after the class. Some of them, as soon as they had finished they could have left and gone, they would rather sit down in the staff room, talk to you and make sure you understood what they taught you. I would say that is much better.

Angelique Knight: I think they genuinely cared about our welfare. If I come in looking a bit down, people would be, like, "What’s wrong? Are you all right?", and that’s nice to know that people care about you. In school, the teacher barely looks at you, she will just walk past you. In Dream School, they genuinely cared about how you was, you feel special. I felt like a celebrity.

Chair: You are!

Ricki Bourne: I was saying that celebrities might not be as good teachers as other teachers, but John D’Abbro is an actual head teacher, and he is a prime example of a good head teacher. He genuinely cared about us and our welfare and the show would not have been the same without him. The main reason why the show worked so well is because he was there.

Angelique Knight: And he was always on our side. I am not, like, saying there was two sides, but he knew what kids were like, he had that previous experience, and he was always supportive of us, and whatever we wanted to do, like, there were days when I wouldn’t come in, and he’ll just give you that gentle shove, you know? Like, just to remind you what an amazing experience this is. He’s amazing. Hi John! Amazing.

Q35 Chair: On that very positive note, I’ll bring this session to an end and thank you all very much for coming and giving evidence today. It’s been brilliant, thank you.

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Jazzie B OBE, DJ, entrepreneur and producer, Professor Mary Beard FBA, Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge, John D'Abbro OBE, "Dream School" headteacher; Headteacher, New Rush Hall Group, Alvin Hall, financial adviser, author and broadcaster, Dr David Starkey CBE, historian and broadcaster, and Professor The Lord Winston, Professor of Science and Society, Imperial college, London, gave evidence.

Q36 Chair: Good morning. May I welcome the second panel this morning to discuss Jamie’s Dream School? It’s a great pleasure to have you with us today. It’s a very large panel, so I must ask that you try to keep your answers as pithy and to the point as the previous panellists did with such clear distinction. I think the discipline issue may be more difficult with you than it was with them. Can I start by asking you in what way your experience of Dream School changed your views of the education system and the way that teaching and the support of teaching should be approached? Shall I start with the sainted John?

John D'Abbro: I think it’s probably reaffirmed some of my views on education. As we have already heard, it made me understand more clearly just how we’re all different. We all have different talents, we all have different preferred learning styles, and we all learn in different ways and with different approaches. One of the challenges for us in our education system is how we can maximise the creativity and the diversity of our culture, so that we use the experience of schooling to give us the best fruits for our society. It didn’t really surprise me; some things weren’t different.

I did have a different perspective on Latin, and I should say-I’m not saying this because Mary’s sitting next to me-because of my own chequered school career, I never had the opportunity of doing Latin. But one thing I do believe we should be teaching at school is learning skills and thinking skills. And it seems to me that one of the great things about Latin is you’ve got the opportunity to do thinking skills-which I want to promote-and learn a language at the same time. And what surprised me, if I’m being honest-no disrespect, Mary-was how engaged some of the youngsters were. You know, 25% of the youngsters opted to do additional Latin. If you’d said that to me at the beginning of the series, I would have said that was a bit whacky.

It reaffirmed what I believed. Some youngsters were asking to do more PE, and I think-not just because of being overweight-we should be doing PE every day. Many of the children were saying-and they’ve said it today-that they need applied learning. What we need, particularly in the majority of our schools, is a greater emphasis on applied learning, so that children can see the relevance of what they’re learning and how if fits into their lives. As someone said, x over y is important, and you’ll need that as part of the learning process, but equally you’ve got to see how that relates to your real life if you’re going to use it. I didn’t have any surprises, but it reaffirmed some of my views on education.

Chair: Lord Winston, successive Governments of whatever hue have tended to focus more on the areas of the education system of which they have the greatest experience, namely GCSEs, A-levels and universities. It could even be said that today that’s a primary focus of Government, and that our system overall fails the lowest achieving third, academically, of young people. That’s the area where we need to focus most to bring out talent. Dream School showed so well with the 20 young people you had that they all had tremendous talent that hadn’t yet been realised. What lessons would you take for improving the education system for people like that?

Lord Winston: I don’t think expertise is the primary thing here. I think it’s important for teachers to respect who they are teaching. I also think that Chaucer got it right when he said

"gladly would he learn and gladly teach."

I went into this simply because I thought I would learn by doing so. Whatever I do in life I try and learn, and if we can encourage teachers to learn I think we’d go a long way. There’s a great deal of research that we could do, and I am doing some at the moment at Imperial College that supports that.

What’s interesting is that many teachers have criticised my hands-on practical approach to what we did in Dream School, but the fact is that with the exception of, I think, two pupils, all passed a GCSE-standard exam at the end, at least on the questions I set. Admittedly there were only 28 questions, but they all got more than 60%. It’s encouraging to suggest that you can learn facts, which the Government are keen on, I think rightly in many ways, going back to the basics of learning. To have demonstrations of how you can do this practically is very important, translating that. We could have done much more of that in Dream School. I watched a little of the programme, although didn’t see much of it, but I think some of those things we could have done better with more demonstrations and more practical work. Unfortunately, schools are strapped, the resources are not there, and that makes it a very difficult issue.

Chair: Dr Starkey, I made some notes from the first session on tips for the education system from the young people. The message for teachers was don’t be afraid, try to connect, show respect for your students, show flexibility, be happy, smile, more out-of-class learning, and more practical learning. Those were the sort of things I picked up. What do you think of that as a recipe for improving our education system?

Dr Starkey: I think those are all good things. All the things that I’ve heard so far are good, but equally there were some rather more painful lessons, and it would be wrong of us not to look at those painful lessons. The first was the pupils’ extraordinary unwillingness for a considerable part of the series to learn or to listen. There was the extraordinary shortness of their attention span, the occasional complete infantilism, the behaviour and the wonderful performance from Harlem, who was not the only one, which makes life intolerable for the teacher, and made life intolerable for John D’Abbro, who broke down in tears and said, "If I’d know it was going to be so difficult, I wouldn’t have taken it on." I was intending to joke, entering with this foot, that it was not the result of another encounter with Conor. I am sure that nowadays he would have kindly helped me.

There are major problems of discipline. For me, the series opened up a whole world of new encounters. People talk to me on buses, not that I go on them much-you remember what Margaret Thatcher said-as do people in pubs, over dinner, and in the street. The thing they all focus on is discipline, and the need to have an atmosphere in which those who want to learn can learn. At the risk of propaganda, this is not one of my books, surprisingly, but it is one that every member of this Committee should look at. It is "The Bitter Root" by James Andrews. He is a young man who was a teacher, and he talks about what has happened in schools over the last 30 years. He says there has been a deliberate attempt-listening to John D’Abbro it is clear that he is very much part of that process-to remove power from the teacher, but if you remove power from the teacher, it does not disappear from the classroom. Power is a zero sum game. Power is transferred to the most aggressive and the worst-behaved of the pupils, and that is one of the lessons we must draw.

Again, all of us who were teaching there were not real teachers. That is a really important point. We were not real teachers, and we did not have the instant techniques that real teachers-such as James Andrews-develop to deal with this. So, in a sense, we had to confront it raw and-John D’Abbro will forgive me for saying this-we also did it with absolutely no support whatever. There was no disciplinary structure; he was incapable of enforcing one. No, it’s true. There was that extraordinary scene at which Alvin and I were present-Alvin will confirm this-in which he said three, four, five times to the group, "You all entered into a behavioural contract. You have let me down. I am very disappointed." By the way, a contract must have penalties and there were no penalties. He then said it again more loudly and more emotionally, and then more and more loudly and emotionally until in the end the wicked Conor put up his hand and, investing the word with all the contempt that the young can use, said, "Sir, we got it the first time. Did you need to say it five times?" It was immediately after that, and it was no accident, that Harlem blew her top.

Alvin Hall: When you are dealing with kids who have the histories and attention spans of these kids, and their experience of education, you have to earn their respect from the very beginning. It’s not something you’re going to get automatically. So, when I approached this I tried to find an entry point so that we could have common ground and establish that common ground. At the same time, I recognised that the only person I could control in the situation was myself, and that if I was in control of myself my self-discipline would hopefully move over to them.

The fight that broke out 25 seconds after my classroom door closed and I began the class was unfortunate, but everyone came back into line and refocused on the class. Earning that respect is difficult and, in a sense, you have to be over-prepared as a teacher. I walked into that classroom with seven lesson plans in place, memorised and known. I had seven options there, and did not assume that the kids would automatically go with me; I assumed that I had to find a way to take them on the journey. I had only two goals every single day: engagement and some feedback. If I could engage them I could keep the door open to learning and that’s what I’ve taken away from this experience. They need to be engaged. Somehow you have to make it relevant to them. Would I have taught in the same way in another situation? Probably not. But I had to tap into my own creativity and my understanding of their need to be respected and want individual respect.

My last point is that when I gave the exercise on the first day of class they were quiet for almost 25 minutes. It was astonishing to everyone, but what quieted them down was doing the individual exercises and then my running all over the classroom to say, "Yes, you got it right," to talk to each of them individually at that moment to reinforce, if they got it right or if they got it wrong: try again on this point. In a sense, giving each of those 20 students that 20 seconds of individual time took it from being about the class overall to being about them.

Q37 Damian Hinds: John, what do you think the series achieved?

John D'Abbro: I think it raised the debate and hopefully made people realise something that I said in my earlier comments, that we are all different and all have preferred learning styles. I also think it helped people to realise just how difficult teaching is, and the challenges that lots of teachers face on a daily basis.

Q38 Damian Hinds: Other than illustrating those issues as issues, what do you think it created in terms of take-aways and things that other schools or the education system more broadly can actually do in a relatively short time frame?

Chair: May I bring Mary in on this? She is looking frustrated.

Professor Beard: I was looking frustrated only because I wanted to reply to what David said and make a general point about this being a television programme. I think that it would be extremely dangerous to extrapolate to the general issues of classroom discipline throughout the country on the basis of what was a reality TV show. That does not mean that the show is not useful. What it did and what came out really eloquently from what the kids were saying was that it enabled them to focus on some issues and to discuss them profitably. It is not data for the state of our schools and I think that we have to be very clear that we were dealing with a group of kids and teachers who, in some ways, were fighting for the attention of the TV cameras. That goes for the teachers as much as for the kids.

Dr Starkey: Some of us don’t need to fight, of course.

Chair: But did anyway.

Professor Beard: That point ought to underlie most of our discussion.

Q39 Damian Hinds: May I come back to John on the question that I have? What do you think that the show created in terms of learning for elsewhere in the education system, notwithstanding the fact that we could have a discussion about the balance between the reality TV aspect and the education experiment aspect? Presumably, if it was to be for any purpose, it was to create some learning points and some things to take away for education for children more generally.

John D'Abbro: To reaffirm the point that I made, the majority of children and the majority of schools get it right most of the time. Over 50% of our youngsters leave school with what we say is the appropriate standard of education. But the fact is that 47% don’t and that is the issue. How is it that we invest so much money in our education system and we still do not produce the 30,000 engineers that James Dyson says we need every year? What is wrong with our system, so that we are not maximising the potential of 47% of our youngsters? That is the debate. Where things are working well, we know they work well, so let’s build on them. But let us look at why, for some youngsters, they are not engaged with the system and they feel alienated within it.

Q40 Damian Hinds: Of course, one could also debate whether the potential for some of those 47% of youngsters has actually been maximised and there may be others in the other 53% of youngsters whose potential has not been maximised; we just happen to set this arbitrary 5-plus C+ bar at GCSE.

Jamie Oliver was very clear at the start of the series that one of the defining features would be that teachers on Dream School would not have, as he put it, the constraints and baggage that teachers elsewhere in the education system have to put up with. To what extent do you think that was crucial to the success of Dream School when it worked well? Can I start with Jazzie B?

Jazzie B: I just wanted to make the point that I grew up in the ’70s and there was very much a class system. Now we have entered into this melting pot. For me, spending time-as I do-mentoring in other schools, comprehensive schools in particular, it just seems like we are completely out of touch with the society that we’ve built and somehow there should be people in the educational system, etc etc, maybe operating at that kind of grassroots level to understand what is happening to some of the casualties and therefore we would be able to put that right for the future.

I think that is very much the case with what I have seen and through my experience of Dream School. I had a fantastic time at school growing up. Again, I enjoyed the more hands-on things. But things have changed in that society and it just seems a real shame that we seem to be so far out of touch. Just like Mary said, we were all involved in a TV show and it is quite ironic that we are here today discussing this because of a TV show, when it’s a serious issue that’s happening on our streets. For my money, I want to understand why we don’t have somebody, or at least representatives from the educational system or even from the Government, actually in our communities, because that is where the problems are. In order for us to meet whatever the quotas are, etc etc, it just seems like we are constantly squeezed.

Obviously I am not really a teacher. Actually, through doing the Dream School show, it has encouraged me to look into my children’s education and to look into education in my community more. Therefore I am now spending time as a mentor in schools, just for myself and to understand what is going on, and I see a huge void there.

Education in the ’70s, from where I’m coming from-my parents came to this country after the second world war to rebuild it and they were very patriotic; we walked into that sort of system. Here we are in this global melting pot, where somehow we got all these different values all mixed up, and for my money we really need to have people in our communities to help these casualties that we are producing. To be honest with you, that is why I wanted to come here today, to express that.

Q41 Damian Hinds: May I just come back to this point, though, about the constraints, and so on, that teachers face, and the release from those, as it were-I know you are not teachers in your everyday lives, so you cannot really compare and contrast, but you can make that leap? To what extent do you think that freedom was central to the success of Dream School when it worked well?

Alvin Hall: As somebody from outside Britain I was not that familiar with the GCSE system, so I got books and learned about it before I walked into the classroom, and I structured my whole class around that central principle. All I did was to take what was there and then recontextualise it in a way that I thought would be more applicable than just sitting there and doing multiplication tables or addition; put it in a different context to make it more exciting for them. So I think you can follow the curriculum, but you have to expand and be more creative than just follow it lock stock. So that is what I did in the classroom.

Q42 Damian Hinds: Obviously, you had smaller class sizes as well, and intuitively that must make a huge difference. Did you feel, dealing with the class sizes that you were, that it would have been materially more difficult to deal with class sizes of the sort that you would get in a typical state secondary school?

Jazzie B: In a typical school you do not have as many angry kids in any one class. I am going to say it again and again-it was telly; it was about the TV. So from that point of view, some of these issues are a bit insulting to teachers who have spent their life, and this is their career. I had a fantastic teacher, who gave me all the life skills, which is why I am in this position today. I went through the curriculum as most people did, and you make choices, but again, you know, we have to look at the other dynamics that have put these children into this situation, and in a normal school you technically would not have that many disruptive children in a 32-kid classroom.

Professor Beard: It was very moving listening to the description of the relationship between these kids and their teachers: on the one hand how alienated they felt from the teachers; and then it was very hard not to put yourself in the position of the exhausted teacher slipping out for a fag break at lunch behind the bike sheds because presumably they are absolutely exhausted. I taught an hour and a half, two hours, and I went home knackered. I thought, "If I was doing this for a seven-hour day, how would I cope?"

In a sense, what the kids and John have said that factors into this is that where Dream School was successful was not about what it taught the kids; it was about teaching them how to learn things. It was about the modality of learning; it was learning how to learn. That is why some of them got off on Latin, some of them got off on cutting up a pig; some of them got off on maths, or whatever. It is that kind of message. Why these poor old teachers are so absolutely desperate is that they have got a horrible target to reach of getting however many per cent. getting five A to C grades at GCSE, which is not teaching people how to learn. The best thing that schools do is teaching people the how of learning, not the what. That is a philosophical point, and that is why, when it worked, it worked. I think that is saying the same as Alvin.

Q43 Nic Dakin: You have covered a lot of the ground that I wanted to focus on, which is what it has drawn your attention to about the purpose of education-what is education for? You might want to comment further on that, but I think a lot has been picked up in what has happened already. John, you used the word "posh" quite a lot in the series, as did Jamie. Are different things for different classes an issue in our education system, do you think? Do you think the Government’s current proposals around things like the EBac are a helpful way forward or an unhelpful way forward?

Chair: The English Baccalaureate.

John D'Abbro: I don’t know. If you had asked me before the series I would have said Latin was a posh language, and I have learned something different. It has changed my parameters on Latin and things. I do not have a problem with the EBac for certain children. What we should do is stretch our most able people. If that is within an academic framework, do that. If that means going to an independent or grammar school, I am happy to trade off some of that for some of the other things to do with egalitarianism, if only because we must stretch our most able people. But, equally, technical and vocational skills are as important to our community and society. If we use the EBac, that is great for some children, but for some children we will want the modern baccalaureate, and for some other children we will need this type of exam and assessment. We are all different and our education system needs to be flexible enough to bring out the best in all of us in whatever area our creativity lies.

Professor Beard: I think the problem with this is that the long view you have to take is very difficult to take. I am delighted that Nana Kwame is going to uni, all being well, next year. We only know whether a kid is a success in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time. The only way we can measure whether we have been successful is in immediate targets, which do not actually represent or test what we really want to get out of the education system, which is people making a contribution over a lifetime. I think that is really very hard. Our reaction to seeing problems-administrative, Governmental reactions-is usually to try to tighten up on the system and to impose clearer targets and fiercer, more stringent targets rather than to free up the system and the teachers in the way that we have been talking about. Anxiety comes out in fixing fiercer rules and targets rather than in empowering a profession that has got much more to offer than it currently does.

Dr Starkey: I think I’d like to go back to the question you asked, namely, about the matter of class, because this again is one of the ghosts in the room. I am a grammar school boy, I was born in a council house, my mother scrubbed floors and my father was a manual worker. I doubt very much if I would be where I am, as it were, if I had had that similar background now. The 47% that we are talking about failing are overwhelmingly the urban poor and not very well off. There is a gross disproportion in achievement in terms of nominal exam results. Should we use this programme as a trigger? Again, I think we have to be very careful. It is only a television programme. But everything that has been emerging from schools-Kate Birbalsingh, Michael Wilshaw and whatever-they are all saying very similar things.

What we presented was a caricature. It was a parody. It was an extreme form, which is what television does very well, which is why it is such a good basis for a talking shop. But this class issue must be addressed. It seems to me that at the moment a middle class child begins with staggering advantages in terms of language, behaviour, the ability to pay attention and being taught, as it were, deferred satisfaction. They are taught all of those things, whereas, in general-by no means always-the poorer you are, and certainly the more you come from a broken home or whatever, the less you have those advantages. The question, therefore, is what forms of education can best support those who are so acutely disadvantaged, as we all recognise? This may be where we have gone structurally wrong.

If you listen to both our children and to somebody like Michael Wilshaw, they fundamentally say the same thing. Conor had a wonderful exchange with David Cameron in Downing street in which he explained to David Cameron that they were a different generation of children who needed treating differently. I would absolutely deny that. The genetic structure of children has not suddenly changed in the last 20 years. We have decided to treat them differently. We have decided, as it were, that constraint is bad and that freedom is good. But of course freedom without constraint is licence. Freedom without constraint is the horrors that we occasionally saw in the classroom and that one sees much more vividly in "Lord of the Flies". There were moments when the series came very near to "Lord of the Flies". Perhaps those children need stricter discipline and structure. There is no opposition between discipline, love and care. There is no opposition between facts and skills. As Lord Winston said, you need a fact before you can think; you cannot just learn to think in the abstract. Similarly, you cannot discover yourself. Everything in my entire career has been about learning and the mind, trying to communicate to the most unlikely audiences, so I am second to none in my belief in this.

Everybody knows-Mary knows this much better than I-that the entire classical tradition is about the relationship between creativity and structure. Schools have to replicate that. Maybe, for the poor, the disadvantaged and the disorganised, they need it more strictly, which is exactly what the successful academies are doing; it is what Mossbourne is doing and what Peter Hyman is planning to do. It was fascinating listening to his history teacher, a man called Tom Shinner, talking about what they want at the Greenwich free school. It is about high expectations and a culture of no excuses; it does not matter if you are poor or if you plead that you have such and such a disability. It is also about lots of extracurricular activities. That was the sort of education I had, but combined with academic rigour.

Alvin Hall: Perhaps I was naive. I approached this not as a television show, but as a give-back. I was one of those poor kids who, at age 15 or 16, went to a special programme at Yale university called Yale summer high school. I met some teachers who were so inspirational to me that they transformed my life.

When I walked into my class, all I wanted to do every day was to engage the kids, and if I got one positive reaction every day, that was motivational. If I could inspire somebody to become more disciplined, it was motivational. The first day, Nana Kwame had a fight in my class. By the end of that first day, he found me upstairs in the teachers’ lounge, he sat and talked to me about how good he was with math and he said he wanted to work through the entire book. The next day, someone walked into my classroom-she is here-and she told me she hated math. By the end, she liked math. Jenny, who also fought with Nana Kwame, told me the next day, "Let’s sit down. Let’s get going. I want to get on with my problems." Every day, there were those small steps. By inspiring the kids in some way, I hoped that they were able to translate that into self-discipline, and I saw little signs of that every single day.

I am sceptical of imposing strict discipline on people. I am a disciplinarian, because I am raised in the old school, and I do believe in discipline, but, in essence, you have to find it in yourself, and part of that is about creating a structure where there is reasonable discipline, with some flexibility, but then inspiring the kids and showing them how self-discipline can yield results that are important to their individual lives.

Lord Winston: I am having difficulty listening to a lot of this, because I find myself in quite significant disagreement. First, I suppose I am a sham, because I am a teacher. I teach undergraduate students and postgraduate students. I still have PhD students, even though I have retired. I think I have spoken to somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 school students just since January, and I have been to at least 40 schools in the UK, from Eton this week, to Ironbridge, which is in a really poor part of north Derbyshire, a couple of months ago.

I just do not get this; I am not convinced about short attention spans and bad discipline. I would like to invite the Select Committee to my reach-out lab at Imperial College, which is an experimental procedure. We get kids from seven to 18 from poor, underprivileged schools, and we have no problems with discipline. They leave doing stuff that is two or three years ahead of the curriculum. Each of the people here who came through my class will tell you that, on the first day, they all said, "I hate science. I never liked science at school." They are nodding, and they will tell you that is true. At the end of the lesson, they all said, "We want to know when your next lesson in science is."

There are tricks to this; it is not simple, but I do not believe this is a fundamental societal problem. There is a huge amount more we could do in schools. We need to find ways of allowing teachers to be inspirational. I do not think that needs expert teachers; it needs teachers who have that in their training. I want to see far more connection-

Q44 Chair: So the Government said that, in a parallel to the Dream School, anyone can set up a free school, and they do not even have to employ trained teachers.

Lord Winston: Dream School is a very flawed model, and we should be careful about looking at Dream School. First, all these students came from different schools, so they have a different ethos, which makes a massive difference to behaviour. Our headmaster, good though he was, had a very different problem, because each child was a different kind of individual, who has not grown into the system over a month or two, let alone a year or two, or three or four years. That made a massive difference to how classes and morale went. That was one of the key problems.

Secondly, whenever you squirt a television camera on something, no matter how much you forget about it, it changes what is going on. There is a limitation. I am not saying that Dream School was not worth doing, but we should be aware that we should be careful about how many lessons we learn from that.

Q45 Chair: I was just trying to see whether you support the Government policy on free schools and the specific allowance to them that they do not have to have trained teachers.

Lord Winston: No, I think we should have trained teachers. Teacher training needs to be changed. We have a massive resource in the UK. It is called the higher education institutions. At the Royal College of Music and Imperial College, we have massive outreach programmes that change the perception of schools in underprivileged areas on how the pupils might play an instrument or how they might learn science. We should be thinking of ways to connect those higher education institutions with the secondary schools and the primary schools. That is an important model. It would not be expensive for the Government to do and it would make a big difference. Having listened to what I have heard, I intend to write you a letter, suggesting that you might want to visit South Kensington in the near future. There is something there that would be very valuable to this Committee.

Q46 Bill Esterson: I hope we do go and visit Imperial College, because that would be valuable.

I want to come back to some of the comments that the students made this morning on what they found valuable from the experience. To paraphrase, they indicated that where it was fun, where it was practical, where it built learning for life and where there was a variety of learning, they were engaged, which picks up on Alvin’s points.

To put the challenge back to David Starkey, where that happened, from what I saw on the programme, and from listening this morning, that seemed to deal with a lot of the discipline and behaviour problems, if he saw those as problems. Where that did not happen, it was much harder for those in the classroom. When we had evidence in this Committee on behaviour and discipline, the overwhelming evidence that I heard supported that view as well.

Dr Starkey: Again, we are introducing a completely false dichotomy here. What a school needs overall is a structure in which a degree of order and learning is encouraged. That is an absolute given. There were little notices all over Dream School saying "Respect others", "Be courteous" and "Be considerate". Those rules were not enforced. We cannot expect all teachers to be Lord Winston. We have to create environments in which quite ordinary people can do an ordinary or, occasionally, extraordinary job. It would seem to me to be dangerous if we drew the lesson from Dream School that all teachers have to be wonderful and inspirational. It isn’t going to happen, and it won’t happen. How can it?

Q47 Bill Esterson: What about teacher training?

Dr Starkey: Sorry, training? Please. These children have all been through 11 years of full-time education, universally at the hands of trained teachers, and look what the result was. Look what they said about their lessons and look at the kind of excuses that Mary has been making for them.

Professor Beard: I think that kids are very good at picking up when they feel a bit despised by their teachers. That does not bring out the best in them. Of course it was tough. I know that I could have taught them Latin a hell of a lot better if I had some proper training. I didn’t do badly, but I would have done better if I had had more experience at that level. To go back to the free school point that got rather dropped, it does not seem to me that any of the kinds of freedoms about empowering teachers and giving them a bit more space are incompatible with free, in-local-authority-control schools. We are not talking about entirely independent outfits, but about how people operate in schools. There is no one right answer. Inspiration comes in many different forms, thank God! That is why I got across to some of them and Robert got across to others. We know from school and from our own experience that people do it differently and that many flowers can bloom. The last thing we ought to be thinking about is what is the way to teach, because there is no single way.

Lord Winston: But it is very difficult as long as we have such poor morale among teachers, where there is not sufficient career development or time out to do stuff that you should be doing. That is why I say we need resources. We were lucky, because we had a television company that would give us whatever teaching materials we needed, so I was hugely spoilt in that classroom.

These guys don’t know this, but I must tell you that I had never dissected a pig before. I refused to admit that there was a smell, because that would have had you all fleeing the class, not just half of you. The fact is that they came back in again, because homo sapiens is a very inquisitive species. It is a question of finding one’s way through to that inquisitiveness. We have to be very careful about undervaluing teachers, but we need to look much more vigorously. The course and the Government’s views on course work are very difficult issues, but how we really train our teachers better is very germane to this point.

Chair: I think that Pat may want to explore that a little more.

Q48 Pat Glass: Lord Winston, you talked about initial teacher training and how it needs to change, and I think that Mary talked about the things that might have helped her before she went into the Dream School. What advice would you give to the Government about what needs to be in initial teacher training to make teachers more able to educate all of our children, not just the top 70%?

Lord Winston: Mary and I will probably disagree on this. The thing is that the language of Terence has not changed very much since "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto."

Professor Beard: You would be surprised-it changes all the time.

Lord Winston: But the language of chemistry changes every week. That is a significant issue about how you have teachers doing stuff that they really are engaged with. Certainly, for example, in England, as opposed to Scotland, there is still a major problem in physics, because only about 30% of people in secondary school who teach physics actually did physics at university as their first subject. That is a massive difficulty.

What I think is quite interesting is that even Russell group universities are now thinking more seriously about teaching. One of the things that the reach-out lab has done at Imperial-I have four PhD posts looking at research in that environment-is that, instead of saying that they want to go into the City, we are starting to see undergraduates at a Russell group university saying, "What about Teach First? Or why don’t I come and teach?" We are about to initiate our first degree in physics with teaching at Imperial College. It is probably the best physics course in the country and we are training teachers.

I think that there is a lesson there. It is not just the sciences. It could equally apply to grades in Oxford. There are a whole range of things that one might consider, but in general some of our best people tend not to go into schools and teach. When I was taught at school, I was very privileged. I went to a school that was private and some of my teachers were dreadful, but the ones who had first-class degrees from Oxford and Cambridge did tend to do something that was valuable for me to look at the subject in a different kind of way. That is quite important, so that mix needs to be thought about.

John D'Abbro: Can I make a bid for developmental psychology to be put back on the syllabus for teacher training? It staggers me that it has been removed, and I just do not understand how you can teach unless you understand that children and adults learn at different rates and in different ways.

I also think there is a thing about training on the job. We need different types of teachers for different subject areas and competences and I think that there are some areas of the curriculum where you can learn more effectively on the job, based in school, so we need a balance between different training experiences for different types of teaching.

Professor Beard: It is easy to knock the theoretical side of teacher training. It is very clear that hands-on training on the job with an experienced teacher is absolutely essential. When I think about how I would have done better, it would have been if I had team taught with someone who could have pointed out my mistakes, which were many. I think it is also the case that if you are thinking about people going into a lifetime’s career in teaching, there are theories and structures, and issues about the nature of learning, about sociology and psychology, which allow them in a school to take that kind of meta-level look at what they are doing. I think we need really good practitioners on the ground, but over a career you have to be able to self-examine and self-reflect about your teaching practice. It seems to me that although we can be rather sniffy about some of what we might call the potted sociology that you learn in a PGCE course, in some ways what it is empowering you to do is to reflect about practice. It seems to me you need those two things; you need to be able to think about what you are doing in a way that goes beyond the next lesson.

Alvin Hall: I want to add to what they are saying. I did not walk into that classroom without resources. Starting a month before I knew we were going to film I called my friends who were child development psychologists, who worked with kids in these particular circumstances; I called my friends in Chicago, LA and New York, and talked to every one of them who teaches students in this area: "What things can I expect? What things can go wrong?" So I did not walk into that classroom without some preparation behind me, and I think that adding child development psychology to it is really important, because then you come to understand the various ways the need for self-respect manifests itself in the classroom, and how you can handle it.

Professor Beard: To be fair, I did have one tutorial at the Department for Education, saying "Help! Can I have the crash course?"

Q49 Ian Mearns: I have learned an awful lot this morning, and Nic partially covered some of the area that I want now to come on to. What we saw before in the panel of youngsters is that a classroom is a group of individuals. Obviously they have a team dynamic once they are in the classroom, but they are a group of individuals. What we saw this morning was a number of youngsters who displayed a whole range of different, very positive, facets, from my perspective-confidence, intelligence, sensitivity, some introspection, some thoughtfulness and a lot of intelligence. Innate intelligence is there; but given their previous experience and the qualifications that they all had to get them into the programme in the first instance, what it says to me is that there’s always a chance for redemption if somebody takes an interest and if somebody cares. I have seen an awful lot of care about these youngsters in this panel this morning. That’s absolutely there.

If we are going to harness the inquisitiveness and get the engagement, and get the learning to learn, and get the aspiration and inspiration and hope-hope is important, I believe, personally, being involved in education as a governor for an awfully long time, and as a lead member for education in a local authority-how are we going to get all that harnessed in the new modern curriculum that is going to be on offer in our state schools? We are now being offered a menu of an English baccalaureate. Is there any hope for the English baccalaureate to be relevant to their futures, so that their futures can be better, and different from their previous experience? Should schools focus on a narrower menu of traditional subjects, or is there another way that we have got to try and find to engage youngsters, so they learn to learn and have better futures?

Chair: That is a difficult question to answer.

Dr Starkey: How many questions was that?

Professor Beard: The answer is money, isn’t it?

Dr Starkey: Mary said money. The education system already had its budget doubled in real terms over the last 10 years, so simply throwing money around cannot be the answer. Secondly, it seems to me-a lot of people have been talking about the individual, and I would really like to come back to that-that we need different types of schools, which almost certainly have different curricula. The great thing that has bedevilled it in Britain is the class system, of course, but if you look at Germany, France or the Netherlands, there are different types of schools. Broadly speaking, there are technical schools on one hand and academic gymnasia, lycées, or whatever you want to call them, on the other. I think that sort of model is much more likely to be successful than a one-size-fits-all solution, however varied that is, by free schools or that kind of thing.

On the point about the individual, it is difficult to see how, within any kind of budget, that can be achieved. Alvin was making the point about the sense of individual attention. I had two forms of success in my own teaching, which is all I can really talk about. One was when I met students individually to talk about an essay, approaches, what they were feeling or what they are doing. The second was much the same as what Robert was doing, and my equivalent of the pig was burning a heretic. I have never burned a heretic before-there was an equal smell, it has to be said-but the response of the class to why somebody goes through that, what it is like to do that to somebody and what the pattern of belief is that makes that possible taught me more about how I think history should be taught than any amount of learning of the Reformation that I had done before. It was a remarkable moment, but how, within a hugely overstretched sector, do we find time for individual attention? One to one is the equivalent of Oxbridge tutorials, and again, Robert, it is no accident you were talking about your Oxbridge teachers. They have been through this one-to-one process. Alvin, you have been through it. That seems to me to be the key element of rescue, but it is hugely expensive. The students were all at their worst when they were together, and they were great when they were separate. Then, better patterns developed.

Q50 Chair: John, do you want to come in?

John D'Abbro: For a minute, I thought that I might be agreeing with David on something. I agree that we need a range of different types of schools. A richness of our education system is that, at its best, we have different types of schools, and whether you call them posh, or whatever, is not the issue for me.

Q51 Chair: The backbone of our system is comprehensive schools, and the gap between comprehensive schools and independent schools-for instance, for the top students getting three As at A-level-has widened over the last few years. So we appear to be failing the people at the top and those at the bottom at a school that put everyone together and was supposed to create a classless, socially mobile society.

John D'Abbro: That’s where I agree. I think that there should be a range of different types of schools, which reflects the different range of abilities and talents that we potentially have. It is interesting what David and Lord Winston were saying about their lessons and the nature of them appealing to certain groups of youngsters in certain ways. Equally, there were other examples that you did not see during the series. There were, for want of a better word, heads-down lessons, which I taught, where there was a lot of structure and lots of discipline. That is partly about structures, but fundamentally, it is more about relationships. That goes back to the point that certain people have made about what makes children engage with different teachers, and different teaching and learning styles. I have to say-and my 30 years of teaching experience has led me to believe this-that it is about the nature and quality of relationships, but that is not to say that you cannot be in authority and be strict. Tessa’s been to where I work, and it is very strict and organised there.

Q52 Ian Mearns: John, is it worth doing another programme, in that case? You could get another group of youngsters from similar backgrounds, with the same people, and try to do a TV programme based on you giving them the English baccalaureate.

John D'Abbro: Lord Winston made the point about how you could coach children, but the fact is that this was a TV programme. Just to challenge David, I had all the responsibility but none of the power, because if I had had the power to run a school the way I wanted to, it would not have been, I assure you, like what we saw on the television. Take it from Tessa, who has been to visit on spec at my school: it is not like that. The interesting question is, would it make good television? You can go into lots of schools. Lots of kids are getting it right. We should be celebrating that-the fact that the majority of our schools are getting it right. But it won’t make good television, and that’s part of it.

We were saying in the corridor what bits were not shown in Dream School? I’m happy to say in front of one of the producers here that in my view, some of the best bits were not shown, because if they had been, we would have seen, as we have seen today, a celebration of young people showing how they can conduct themselves and how they can get it right in a very formal situation. I do agree with David on that. Children aren’t any different, but what they do need today are different approaches in order to maximise their outputs.

Lord Winston: Chairman, may I come back to Mr Mearns’ point? I know the acoustics in these Committee Rooms are dreadful. You’re asking about the baccalaureate, and of course, in a way, we’re not qualified to talk about that. But it is interesting-I hesitate to mention this in this room-that we had a Select Committee on Science and Technology in the House of Lords, which looked at science teaching. We came to the conclusion there, after a fair amount of evidence in a short inquiry, that the baccalaureate system-this was a few years ago-was well worth consideration.

What really worries me, coming from a Russell Group university, is that we have really advanced standards for admission to Imperial and it is quite shocking how poorly our students write English and how poorly, often, they communicate. It seems to me that there is a lot of merit in considering those plans. I’m speaking perhaps from the wrong side of the political divide, but I think we should take that suggestion from the Government very seriously. Provided that we have the right subjects in the baccalaureate-that may be the trick, and I know there’s a lot of argument about it-there does seem to be much more merit in making certain that you have educated scientists and educated people in the humanities. If we understood science as part of our culture and humanities and the arts as integral with a science, that would be a great help.

I think we scientists won a very unfortunate pyrrhic victory when we got the funding for science at the expense of the arts and the humanities in the universities. I don’t think that’s a sensible strategy. These things to some extent are indivisible. That speaks in a way-my answer has probably been over-long on this; sorry-for the idea of having a slightly broader education than our current narrow A-level syllabus.

Q53 Charlotte Leslie: There’s an awful lot I want to ask, but first I’m just going to say to Mary and John that as a classicist, I’m so pleased that the merits of Latin have been discovered and that, hopefully, in the future it will not be the preserve of the posh, because that’s wrong.

I want to ask about behaviour and discipline, which we’ve covered quite broadly already. It strikes me that, in a sense, two camps are developing that perhaps don’t need to be two camps. This is about external structure/constraint, which is a more negative way of putting it, and the relationship between those external structures/constraints/ discipline and the relationship that has with the internal development that has to take place in a student in terms of self-belief and self-respect, which then builds an incentive to work hard. I was very struck by what Angelique said about being so scared of going back to her former ways.

I wheel out again and again a T. S. Eliot quote warning against systems "so perfect that no one needs to be good". I wonder to what extent we’re talking about systems so perfect that they enable people to be good and whether you had any thoughts on the key essentials of structure and boundaries that you felt in your learning process and discipline were important and what the key elements of enabling students to self-develop within those were.

Chair: Despite that profound, deep question, short, sharp answers would be gratefully received.

Charlotte Leslie: Sorry!

Chair: No, it was an excellent question.

Lord Winston: One word, if I may-self-esteem. Encouraging self-esteem is very important. We agree about this.

Alvin Hall: Yes, we do.

Lord Winston: In my view, sometimes self-esteem was missing in my classroom. It is very important-it is in child development actually, and I’m talking about small children-to ensure that they are rewarded, even when they don’t get it quite right, for trying. Self-esteem is much needed.

Professor Beard: Also, joining the kids in the process by which you work out what those structures are. My life got much better after I’d asked them-I think this was on the television-what should the process of discipline be? I should point out that they all told me not to smile.

John D'Abbro: Chair, a few years ago, I gave evidence to another Committee and I use a line today that I used then. Bill Rogers said something along the lines of, "The certainty of the consequence is more important than the severity." I share another pop with David about the inability of the show to have certainty of a consequence. In the most effective schools, it is absolutely clear what the boundaries are, where the parameters are, what the expectations are and that, when children get it right, it gets recognised and where they need supporting because they’ve got it wrong, that is challenged as well. To reaffirm the point about self-esteem, that is the skill of teachers that they recognise the small, individual steps that children make. Sometimes it’s that hypodermic affection that can make the difference in the context of a classroom between a classroom being in control and out of control.

Alvin Hall: Because those small things indicate a degree of respect that you start out with and that degree of respect helps establish the discipline.

Dr Starkey: But I think equally we need to be very careful. The word "respect" is used very generously and "self-esteem" ditto. What we saw a good deal of to begin with was false self-esteem, that perpetual assertion and arrogance and, "Me, me, me. If I put my hand up, you must deal with me first." So that’s complex. There is something else. The apparatus that Dream School set up was a parody of a school, particularly things like the school uniform which was not enforced at all.

Lord Winston: Sorry I-

Dr Starkey: The school uniform was given but was not enforced. All my friends who are teachers-and I have had two really interesting dinner parties over this-said to me that, if you have school uniform, it has to be rigorously enforced. And when it is rigorously enforced, it means you never have a problem with discipline in any other way. In other words, all of these things that we see in newspapers about insisting on shoes rather than trainers, trousers at a certain angle, so many knots of the tie showing, do actually work. I have to say this is hearsay Mr Chairman.

Charlotte Leslie: Is that John’s point-that it’s the certainty of the outcome, not the severity?

Dr Starkey: Yes. No one is talking about beating, or hanging, drawing and quartering-though there are moments when I felt like it. We are talking about particular sorts of structure. In the same way that in any free society you need law, a school is no different from the world outside. Law isn’t there all the time and we don’t spend the whole of our lives if we are sensible-though occasionally some civil servants would like it-looking at the rule book as to what we have to do next. But you need the combination.

Charlotte Leslie: In a classical tradition, you need your external constraints to stop all the internal things you want to avoid doing, which isn’t very helpful-

Dr Starkey: Exactly.

Charlotte Leslie: We have agreed that it is not a school model and that you had the most angry children altogether. Would it have been better titled Jamie’s Dream PRU-pupil referral unit? Are there are lessons that we can take because a pupil referral unit-

Dr Starkey: Sorry, I did not hear the initials.

Charlotte Leslie: Would the programme have been better titled-sorry producer-Jamie’s Dream Pupil Referral Unit, because the pupil referral unit takes all the casualties that Jazzie was talking about? One of my big problems is that a pupil referral unit takes all those who need that special attention and bungs them in a place-and some pupil referral units are very good-where they are the bad kids. Are there more lessons to learn from Jamie’s Dream School for Pupil Referral Units than perhaps mainstream education, which is a far bigger unit?

Jazzie B: What’s interesting there is that I almost feel like I was in a completely different series, because I didn’t have any of the problems that we’re discussing. Quite honestly, I feel that is because I come from a background/community where there is a level of understanding. If you listen to any of the students, because I’m not a real teacher and because it was Dream School, for me the discipline was easy.

Dr Starkey: But you were playing music, for God’s sake!

Chair: Let me bring in Craig, if I may.

Q54 Craig Whittaker: Like all panels, it is good to see that you don’t agree. Most of our other panels don’t agree either, but the key point is that an element of everything that’s been said today probably makes up a good thing.

I have a young daughter who works in Mwanza in Tanzania. She teaches young kids and has some amazing results. It is not about money and resource; it is about the quality of the teacher. If we can agree on one thing and if the money were to be invested in one particular area, would the best result be to invest in the quality of teachers by giving them the skills to inspire our young people?

Jazzie B: 100%.

Professor Beard: Yes, and not investing in more educational tourism to find a brilliant idea from Germany or the United States that could somehow be brought over because of some great headline statistic. All the kids said that whether or not things worked for them was because they did or did not have a relationship with the teacher. Teachers need to be freed up and empowered to get back to that kind of relationship.

Jazzie B: That is why we need to spend more time in our communities to understand the communities and to ensure that we don’t repeat those casualties. It is all there, and it is an honest, true thing. Whether it is music or maths, I feel that it is true in both strands, although we didn’t get to see it throughout the programme. When Alvin was doing maths, he applied himself and he took examples of things from everyday life that he felt these particular children would relate to, and I subsequently did the same thing. Principally, I based it on understanding the community that I was dealing with.

None of us had the opportunity before we went into Dream School to meet any of the students, or anything like that, so we were all basically going on our experiences. Listening to the panel, we have shared various different experiences, but fundamentally I believe, at least here in London, where I live and have grown up, that there are mixtures of communities, mixtures of cultures and, most importantly, mixtures of attitudes. You see some serious casualties, not only from their discipline, but from the structure of how they’ve been brought up and where they’ve been brought up.

Even understanding the principles of whatever we decide to be the curriculum, whether it is Mr Starkey’s way or Alvin’s way, it is interesting when you look into our basic scenario, because I was called to go into many different classrooms in regard to discipline. Why would that have been? Because I was the big black guy? What was the situation about? There was something going on with relating to these kids and what they were going through. Again, it is the idea of discipline. Most of the panel, barring Mr Starkey, had a great response from those kids.

Dr Starkey: I think I did, too, but that is not the issue. [Interruption.]

Chair: If I may, I’ll continue to chair this Committee and bring in Lord Winston.

Lord Winston: I would like to answer Mr Whittaker’s question. Your question is absolutely appropriate, and I think the answer you got from Mary is dead right, but I would add one thing. All of us in this room went to school; we all have an opinion about school; and we all think we understand teaching and schools. One of the things that was very clear to me when I set up the reach-out lab at Imperial College was how little serious research there has been into impact and working out what works best. Even now, I find it quite difficult to find social scientists who can collaborate with me to run a PhD programme looking at how we might improve teaching skills within the environment in which I work. I would argue that one of the things we should be doing is not only having an opinion, but actually looking at the evidence for that opinion. I don’t think we do that very well. I would argue that in addition to investing in teachers, which is absolutely paramount and right, we must do some more research in the area of education. I’m not convinced we are doing enough.

Chair: I shall finish with Tessa.

Q55 Tessa Munt: Thank you for coming to talk to us today. It’s good that we have the conversation about what’s happened, whether it is accurate or inaccurate, as a reflection. I want to check out one thing with you: the value of work experience and careers guidance to young people like the ones who are sitting behind you and the others who were in those classrooms at Dream School. Can I just have your comments fairly quickly?

Chair: Any answer to that? Is careers advice valuable?

Lord Winston: Highly valuable. Schools are not doing it very well in many cases. Often, they are not giving school students the aspiration to go to institutions where they can continue their education afterwards. It’s a big problem, and we should be doing more. Even in some of the private schools, it’s not very good, but it is worse in the state sector.

Alvin Hall: I think it helps students to immediately translate what they learned in the classroom into practical, everyday, useful information. It makes it real for them and it engages them with individuals who can help them to see the realness and applicability of the information that they learn. It is essential.

Q56 Tessa Munt: We have to speak to Angelique and others about the reality.

Alvin Hall: Yes.

Jazzie B: I am pleased to say that I do look after some of the kids and they come out on the road with me and are gaining experience.

Tessa Munt: Thank you.

Chair: Mary.

Professor Beard: As long as it is targeted and individualised. There is a problem with some work experience in some schools in that the poor teacher has 100 kids just after their GCSEs to fix up with one week’s work experience, and it is sheer hell. They have to do a risk assessment and find places. It is just sheer hell. What you need is the kind of individual attention factoring through into how that work experience is fitted up. That needs more time.

Q57 Tessa Munt: David, have you anything to say?

Dr Starkey: Not really, because, obviously, we didn’t try it and, in one sense, everything we are saying beyond that is mere hearsay. I am a passionate believer, as we all are, that even formal academic learning can have major impacts on how people behave, their everyday life and what they do. The divide between school and the world outside is dangerous. Anything that bridges that is a good thing. Of course, it leads to the notion that what goes on inside school is irrelevant and doesn’t matter, until you get into the world outside.

Q58 Tessa Munt: But don’t I remember a clip in the programme where you’re showing one of those students around your college?

Dr Starkey: At Cambridge? Yes, indeed. But what I was trying to do with that was to say to her, "Please. Ambition. You are incredibly bright," which she was. In a different world, she would have been seriously considered for that college if she’d had the educational background and applied herself. Apparently, she still wants to become a beautician. I’m sorry; I know that we need very intelligent beauticians, but I think it’s a tragedy. She could have been a physicist. This is Danielle. She was immensely able, but she’d never seen a world in which the doors of Cambridge, Oxford or anywhere could open to her.

Lord Winston: It is quite complex. One of the answers to your question is that, actually, we are terrible about work experience. Try and get a young person into a national health service hospital to do work experience-it is bloody well impossible. Every kind of barrier is put up by all sorts of ludicrous administration, most of which is complete nonsense. We ought to be changing that because there is a large work force that is absolutely ready to engage, encourage, impress and interest young people.

Q59 Tessa Munt: I am going to ask one other quick question. A criticism has been made to this Committee-almost a challenge-by a blogging teacher, on what we should be asking. If we are providing limited numbers of students with such opportunities as those you offered-connections with you, as individuals-does that not just perpetuate the problem that it is not what you know but who you know that actually gets you on? Do you have a comment on that?

Lord Winston: I’ll back down.

Q60 Tessa Munt: Alvin.

Alvin Hall: I think, in the end, it is what you know, because you can use what you know to create new opportunities for yourself, and that is more important than who you know.

Jazzie B: I think it’s who you know. I have grown up in a world like that so, for me, the reality is who you know who can help you, whether a tutor, a carpenter or an interesting musician who will brighten your horizon. The connection is what is important, and I think that we can have that right across the board. Like I said, I am personally practising that theory right now.

Dr Starkey: It’s both.

Q61 Tessa Munt: Mary.

Professor Beard: I think in a way that this programme-this Committee-does not have any relevance to that "who you know, what you know" question. It is back to, "This was actually a television programme." What has been good about it-this is what I would say to the blogging teacher-is that it has brought a new range of people into a debate about what is happening in schools who were not in that debate already. Actually, I think it has done the teaching profession-I did not expect this to start with-a really good turn, because every single one of us came away saying, "Bloody hell! They deserve every penny they get; it is really hard work." Actually, most teachers in this country are doing brilliantly, and are much better at it than we are.

Q62 Chair: Thank you very much. Would you like a final word, head teacher?

John D'Abbro: Well, I was actually going to say what one of the students said-you need a bit of both. Whether an inspirational teacher, or a teacher with great craft, you need both.

I wanted to say something else, and I must use the opportunity of being here. We were talking earlier about the burdens placed on teachers. It still staggers me that it is not law in this country to have a teaching and learning policy in every school. I ask you to think about that. [Interruption.] We do not have to have a teaching and learning policy in every school. I am sure that point was made to some of you guys or some of your colleagues some years ago, and it is still the case. How do we have schools that don’t have teaching and learning policies? I serve that one out to you to finish.

Chair: Thank you all very much indeed-a big panel, but you followed the strictures, keeping it short, sharp and sweet. Thank you for coming and participating today.

Prepared 13th July 2011