Choosing your brick wall

I have been exploring an issue with a friend recently. It is to do with how we respond to the demands by Ofsted and schools for 4 levels of progress through KS3 and beyond. The problem for me is not setting challenging targets but the intellectual dishonesty and laziness of simply transferring En/Ma targets and expectations into targets for other subjects in KS3. It doesn’t really make sense because there are no national art starting points from which to measure progress in levels through KS3 and it is lazy to simply use En & Ma levels instead. (this is not about FFT  and GCSE targets which is a different issue. see below)

Perhaps we just have to learn to live with ambiguity and choose with care which brick walls we want to bang our heads against. Perhaps we should just:

1. recognise that there is an intellectual and technical flaw in linking art directly to En expectations etc etc etc;
2. recognise that schools will set, and should set, challenging targets for teachers and pupils and that this is part of leadership gamesmanship. It is a different game with different rules. Perhaps its OK for schools to say to art teachers ‘We know its not the same thing, but what if we just said, for the sake of argument, because we haven’t got anything else, that students with  etc etc etc

Perhaps it’s pointless trying to use ‘1’ (intellectual pragmatism) to disprove ‘2’ (motivational energy). Perhaps we should be realistic and accept the way of the world although I feel targets loose their value for both teachers and students if they are not rooted in the reality of the student’s performance. But my inclination is to argue for ‘3’ which is to:

3. recognise that art teachers are best placed to identify their student’s potential in art in Yr 7 (rather than En SATs in Yr 6). and use ‘2’ to mediate ‘3’.

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PS This is not about FFT which does have some integrity in presenting probabilities of students achieving GCSE grades based national data of children from similar starting points. But I have written extensively about this elsewhere see ‘assessment‘.

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About Dan

Senior Advisor, Art Inspector, Member of the Expert Advisory Group for Art, Consultant working with NSEAD, IOE, QCA, UCE, UOG. Currently lecturer at UCL working on a project in Kazakhstan to develop text books for a new art curriculum.
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