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Sidcot students give Michael Gove a ticking off over lack of creativity

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: December 18, 2013

By Tina Rowe

Sidcot students give Michael Gove a ticking off over lack of creativity

Michael Gove meets students on a tour of Camborne Academy. The Education Secretary has been told in a letter from Sidcot School pupils that a return to learning by rote will not set students up for life after school

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Students from a Somerset Quaker school are offering to teach Education Secretary Michael Gove a lesson with a meeting at the House of Commons.

Their offer comes after Mr Gove turned down their headmaster's invitation to visit Sidcot School at Winscombe to see how to achieve academic excellence without losing creativity and independent thinking.

The students' own independent thinking includes a ticking off for the Secretary of State.

In his letter to Mr Gove, head boy Nicholas Gampierakis wrote: "Educational reforms which advocate a return to a way of learning and teaching based on rote-learning and a narrow curriculum will not help students apply their knowledge later in life when they are faced with problems and challenges that they have not experienced before. Reforms which accept unqualified teachers and radically change exams devalue educational standards, widening disparities between students."

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Year 12 student James Eyermann, who is interested in a career in politics, and has already spent a week at 10 Downing Street with the direct communications department wrote: "I am very concerned about the way that students will be examined in the future. GCSEs with the coursework element gives every student the opportunity to succeed in a subject but if you remove this and focus on purely exam performance, basing a student's ability and knowledge in just a two-hour stress-filled window on a specific day you will not be fair to the majority."

James welcomes the fact that students will be taught more about the history of Britain and the people who have contributed to society and culture. But he has another piece of advice for Mr Gove – establish a single exam board to prevent grade inflation.

James concludes: "Teaching at Sidcot goes beyond the basic syllabus. It allows you to work independently and to think for yourself so that you can cope with life and work outside of school. I would really like the chance to discuss my ideas with you and talk about my school and how it is different."

Nicholas writes: "Sidcot is a very different school – we get excellent exam results but also something much more valuable: we learn to think creatively and apply what we learn to the real world outside of school."

Sidcot's headmaster, Iain Kilpatrick, first invited Mr Gove to visit the school in September to see what can be achieved by students who are encouraged to think for themselves rather than learn by rote.

A speech by Childcare and Education Minister Elizabeth Truss has suggested that British teachers look to their international counterparts for a lead, quoting the high rate of literacy in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Mr Kilpatrick says that the Government would be better placed to take inspiration from colleagues closer to home. He said: "Sidcot students are encouraged to think and speak for themselves and, within a nurturing environment, with high quality teaching, we have developed a generation of young people who love learning and are excited to challenge perceptions of the world".

"Our students learn in a truly international community, which blends the best of a UK education with a global outlook, encouraging them to develop a broad understanding of diversity and different cultures that allows them justifiably to claim to be citizens of the


The students have also invited Mr Gove and Mrs Truss to visit the school in the spring term.

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