Failure morphs into “deferred success”

BBC Radio news extracted maximum mileage yesterday out of a proposal from the PAT (Professional Association Teachers) conference. The idea being put forward was that the word “failure” should be removed from schools!
Having read a fuller article this morning it’s clear that the proposer has a real heart for young people and enabling them to have the maximum possible opportunity! (something to make a youthworker glad).
However I’m not sure that lexicography is the answer, I’m not sure we can banish the word “fail,” it’s got to stem from a changed attitude!
I’d love to see Schools having the resources and will to:
Give Form tutors time to know, value, understand and invest time with their pupils.
Recognise that there is a reason for challenging behaviour.
Not give the lowest ability pupils the least experienced teachers or “class sitters”
Be able to put the emphasis on learning and growth rather than just exams and results.
Reduce the number of teaching sessions each teacher has to deliver in one week.
Work more closely with youth workers
and finally I’d love it if calling pupils stupid, writing them off or making them feel without value would be put on a parr with bullying or racism.
We still need the word fail, because we still fail young people!

4 Replies to “Failure morphs into “deferred success””

  1. Well said that man, the problem as I see it is the school system is set up to teach our young people to pass exams and were not all exam type people. Having been told that I would never get anywhere when I was at school this is a big subject for me, what we need to do is start focusing on what people are good at rather than what they are bad at!

  2. Amen to that!
    The changes which schools need come right from the top. League tables reporting on the number of A* and the percentage of students who go on to university mean that the D-grade student receives little or no attention, while the heavy focus on examinations means that non-academic students come out with grades that do not necessarily reflect their ability.
    If only solving every problem in life was as simple as banning the word – let’s do away with some other words too while we’re at it, like “hate”, “child abuse” and “famine”…

  3. I know most reform ideas concentrate on lower abiblity and non-academic pupils, but can I add to the ‘would really love to see’ list?
    Give gifted pupils as much of a challenge as the rest: ‘equal oppertunities’ means all pupils need to be pushed to their best. Mixed ability classes fail the lower *and* the higher achievers. And give rewards to all students when they perform well – in my form group the lower abiblity pupils were always getting commendations and merits, while we in Set 1 got nothing because we were expected to hand in A class work – so push us and reward us when we work well. So many bright and able pupils get bored with school because there is nothing to work for, they get disenchanted when the report says ‘Acheivement: A, Effort: B’. At primary school three of us were left to teach each other maths in year 6, because our teacher had to spend all her time with a girl who was still learning to add. We got no attention from our teacher or the classroom assistant because the lower ability pupils needed them. We learned to push each other, to race, to mark each others work and to teach each other when one got stuck.
    And some of us *are* exam type people.
    I think a problem that comes up from anybody’s point of view is expectation. Some people are told that they will never get anywhere, and others are so expected to succeed and put under so much pressure to do well. Neither way is healthy!
    Hmmm… doesn’t seem to be any ‘right’ way to teach, assess or motivate children does there? Because every single one has different needs.

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