Here are seven things I’ve learnt from watching the debate about the Bold Beginnings report this week. They are not a critique of any one individual, but rather a reflection on the errors I think we can make in responding to official education reports.
I saw the opposite of each of these things being done by different people in reaction to the Bold Beginnings Report, but I think they are applicable to the way school leaders and education experts interact with official reports more generally.
- It’s probably best not to assume the whole of a report is about the part of the education provision for which you are personally responsible – this applies to the positive and negative aspects.
- If something is mentioned as a positive in the key findings or executive summary, it’s less likely (though not impossible) for it to also be mentioned as a recommendation.
- If the report writer doesn’t mention a strength as a recommendation, then it doesn’t mean they’d like everyone to immediately stop doing that thing.
- If you read a recommendation and think to yourself, I do that already, it doesn’t mean everyone else does it.
- Exemplification is just that. Exemplification is not the same as a further recommendation.
- Some people will use extreme readings of recommendations in a report to further their own careers. Read the whole report from start to end yourself before making decisions based on it. The business of school leaders is being strong enough, knowledgeable enough and confident enough in their own vision to make decisions about what will benefit the students in their context.
- It is worth considering how recommendations which challenge your current beliefs may be beneficial to some or all of the students you work with.