At the SSAT National Conference 2015, four students from schools within the SSAT network answered the question ‘Are schools getting in the way of education?’ Watch above and read below as Philip Hutchinson of Landau Forte Academy Derby gives his opinion…
I want to talk about the need to believe in every student who walks through our doors, based on some of my own personal experiences.
Many people struggle to believe this when I tell them but when I was in primary school I was told that I would never be able to write without the help of a computer, due to my dyslexia.
I would love to stand before you know and tell you that the reason I overcame these expectations was because of some great inner personal drive or intelligence at the age of 6 or 7. But that simply was not the case.
I was able to overcome these expectations because there was one individual, one teacher by the name of Mrs Bailey who believed in me at a time when nobody else (including myself) would.
She kept me behind an hour every day after school, and found a machine that helped me to write. On discovering that the school would not buy the machine because they did not think it was a good use of their finance, she invested from her own personal finance to get the machine.
My trajectory totally changed because someone saw the possibilities I had, when no one else could. Ultimately, that is what schools are for. They ought to be places that believe in every student. But – so often in schools – we not only fail in doing this, we succeed in doing the exact opposite.
My trajectory totally changed because someone saw the possibilities I had, when no one else could.
What would it look like to believe in every students who walks through our doors? It would look like being places of open possibility, where we count the impossibilities and seek to break them. Rather than being places where students’ success is predetermined by this construct about whether they are smart or not.
Believing in every student means giving them as comprehensive an education as possible, rather than segregating them in classes of the lowest ability where they cannot learn from the brightest and the best.
When the idea of public education was first created, we all know it was one of the most revolutionary ideas. The reason it was so revolutionary was because it guaranteed every child – regardless of their wealth or class – an equal chance to succeed.
If we do one thing today, let it be to reignite that original vision of education and to believe in every child who walks through our doors.
This is the fourth and final post of our #SSATstudents series. The other three are:
- Education is killing students’ curiosity.
- We need to empower teachers.
- There’s an entire generation of young people who don’t ask questions.
Landau Forte College Derby is part of the SSAT network. Find out more about membership here.