A teaching union says it will draw on the benefits of the island’s curriculum and education system when it pushes for change in the English education system.
A delegation of 28 head teaches from the North West of England and Wales enjoyed a three-day visit to the island this week, organised by the National Union of Teachers (NUT).
They met Education Minister Tim Crookall and department officials, as well as visiting a number of schools.
Alan Rutter, divisional secretary for the NUT in Cumbria, told the Manx Independent he had been ‘really impressed’ by what he had seen in schools here, particularly the ‘extremely wide-ranging creative curriculum which allow pupils time to develop’.
He praised the island’s Freedom to Flourish model, saying head teachers and teachers got the best out of pupils ‘without having OFSTED breathing down your necks’ and ‘teaching to the test’.
Mr Rutter said the union would highlight the benefits of the island’s model in future consultation with the English Government.
‘We would want to be saying there’s a different model here. You can strive for excellence without all the political interference we have got in England.
‘This what can be done and we would like to see that more.’
The trip came about as a result of a visit by Beth Davies, NUT president, and Simon Jones, NUT national executive member, in February.
He said the island’s curriculum, together with the fact that assessments are often classroom-based, schools have supportive quality assurance arrangements and collaboration between schools is encouraged meant teachers were free to teach – something that was the envy of colleagues in the UK.
‘The Isle of Man’s Freedom to Flourish system with no OFSTED, ESTYN, SATs, annual literacy and numeracy tests, league tables, bandings, academies etc outperforms schools in England and Wales by over 10 per cent at GCSE.
‘Schools are happy places where children love learning and thrive without the pressure of being labelled failures.’
Liz Beaumont, assistant head teacher at Sacred Heart RC Primary School, in Blackburn, described the visit – including trips to the Education Support Centre, Ballakermeen High School and Henry Bloom Noble Primary School – as inspirational.
‘Each school is unique because each community is unique. It’s acknowledged that is how it should be. In England we are all being fitted into a model of what is a good school.’
She said she felt re-energised to resist the move in England towards academies. The NUT is campaigning against them, saying they have a damaging impact and don’t raise educational standards.