What is Education 2000 and where did it spring from?

Education 2000 started in the early 80s. It was the brain child of a group of business people who were dissatisfied with the way in which education was being delivered. They were unhappy not so much about the content of education as with the way in which it was being put over.

They recognised that the rate of change in the World, in Business, in Industry and in Commerce was ever accelerating and that this resulted in a need for everyone to learn for the whole of their life if they were to keep up with the changes, let alone make any significant progress.

Therefore if school leavers are going to need to learn for the whole of the rest of their lives it is vital that they leave school as active learners rather than having only been the passive recipients of teaching.

It became apparent to the founding group of business people that what was needed in the way that education was delivered was a fundamental and progressive change in emphasis from teaching to learning. This is what Education 2000 is basically about; achieving the change from teaching to learning with the balance shifting progressively throughout a school career.

Where this happens it produces well rounded, capable school leavers who are ready, willing and able to take on the challenge of the 21st Century world of work.

At this juncture it is worth making the point that teaching and learning are not two sides of the same equation; very far from it. To be taught is a passive occupation, solely dependent on the teacher and which takes place mostly in formal surroundings; to learn is active, dependent on the learner and can take place at anytime and anywhere.

What do we do to make this change happen?

If youngsters are progressively to take responsibility for their own learning then we need to address three main areas: the Community, Teachers and Information Technology.

Let us first consider the Community, which is probably the most important ingredient in achieving the switch from teaching to learning. It is vital to get the whole community involved in the education of its young people – to take responsibility for it and to take an active part in it. By the community we mean absolutely everybody: schools, pupils, teachers, heads, governors, parents, businesses, business organisations, the local authority, the local education authority, community groups, churches, sports clubs, leisure clubs, private individuals, the list goes on forever. They all have a part to play but none more so than the parents. Teachers cannot effectively bring about the education of the young without the active co-operation and participation of their parents.

The second element we need to address is that of the teachers. If they are to change their role from being mainly imparters of information to that of being primarily facilitators of learning they will need a considerable amount of help. Teachers must have adequate time to devote to their own professional development, particularly in managing the change from teaching to learning. Also they must be released for business and industrial attachments in order better to understand the world into which their charges will go to earn a living and make a career. Ideally teachers should be able to devote 10% of their time to these two important activities and we need to make this possible if they are not to feel threatened by the teaching/learning change and the resulting changes in pupil’s expectations.

The third important area to be addressed is that of information technology. We need to make sure that schools have a high level of LT. provision. This has nothing to do with computer literacy; the average 11 year old knows far more about manipulating computers than most business people. The importance of I.T. lies in the fact that it is one of the most powerful learning aids in existence.

What does LT. bring to education? First it is an enormous aid to getting hold of information. It enables access to the complete list of resources held in the school library or elsewhere to be made from anywhere on the school’s computer network, and reservations of books or materials to be made immediately for later collection. It allows access to fully up to date, and regularly updated reference works through CD-ROM. Essays can be written on word processors and thus revised and improved in a way which would have been quite impractical if hand written. It provides a wide range of technical information to assist the CDT department. These are just a few of the important roles that I.T. can play in a school.

By addressing these three main areas we can provide a climate in which learning flourishes and education becomes liberated from the classroom and its serried ranks of desks. This is very important as so much of education can take place not only outside the classroom but outside the school. Research in Germany a few years ago into the learning of science amongst I4 year-olds showed that they only learned 40% of their science in school. The remaining 60% they learned elsewhere: at home, from television, from books and magazines, from parents and friends and from all manner of other stimuli.

Where is all this happening and how is it working?

Education 2000 is now operating in nine Projects: Letchworth the original, Bury, Leeds, Calderdale, Coventry, Tring, Loughborough, Ipswich and Swindon.

Across the Projects 3 range of activities is taking place. They all vary in emphasis and differ in their degree of development and size. However they all operate within the ethos, the culture and the vision of Education 2000.

Each Project covers both state and private sector schools provided that they lie within the selected community.

So what happens as a result of Education 2000? Much of the evidence is of necessity anecdotal, although no less powerful as a result. Indeed in the early Projects we did not take starting bench marks so we do not have a basis for taking measurements. We are now starting to do so and will not have this problem in the future.

However, a number of interesting and heartening things are emerging which tend to show that the vision of Education 2000 is well founded.

– Usage of school libraries is up by 300%,

– Library usage by the CDT department has gone up from zero to the highest of all departments in many cases,

– Truancy rates are significantly down,

– Absenteeism amongst teachers is greatly reduced,

– Essays written on word processors are judged on the basis of the improvement of the final draft over the first draft rather than just on the quality of the final product.

– There is a highly visible improvement in attitudes and morale among both pupils and teachers.

– These are just a few examples of important changes which can be observed when visiting any of the Projects.

What is our support base?

We are mainly, and rightly, supported by the business sector. However We also receive, or have received, support from charitable trusts and a number of government departments and initiatives: DES, DTI, TECS, etc..

Lloyd George said “The conduct of war is far too important to leave to the generals”. I believe that the conduct of education is far too important to leave solely to the DES. It is a matter of vital interest to the Home Office, the DTI, the Department of Employment and possibly others as well. They should all have a say in it and hopefully will all support Education 2000 as the DTI and TECS have already done.

What are our needs?

First and foremost we need money to support our three main thrusts of community involvement, teacher development and LT. provision. We need gifts in kind which will support education, such as computer hardware and software as well as resources for school libraries and general resource support for all departments in schools. In order to manage the Projects and provide support to them from the Core we can always make good use of secondees with managerial or specialist expertise. Finally, from those who already support us in other ways, we are always very grateful for help with advocacy and opening doors to new contacts and potential supporters.

For the Future.

We do not plan to open more Projects than those that are already running. We intend to prove with the ones that we already have that what we are advocating is so important that neither Central or Local Government can afford not to take it up and run with it. To make sure this happens we need the financial and moral backing of the business community who, in any case have the most to gain by our success.