Bill Scott's blog

Thoughts on learning, sustainability and the link between them

Monthly Archives: January 2018

The 25 YEP

📥  Comment, News and Updates

The government has a 25 year plan to do something or other about nature – or was that the environment?  Distressingly, they describe this as the 25 YEP.

Mrs M (our Mrs M, of course), speaking at its launch, said that plan would deliver “clean air, clean and plentiful water, plants and animals which are thriving, and a cleaner, greener country for us all".   According to the Times, the main points are:

  • Introduce a requirement for new housing and infrastructure to result in “environmental net gain”.
  • Develop a new “nature recovery network” to create or restore about 1.2 million acres of wildlife-rich habitat outside existing protected areas, with opportunities to reintroduce species.
  • A review of protected areas which will assess whether more national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty are needed.
  • A new Northern Forest stretching from Cheshire to Lancashire and Yorkshire; a million new urban trees and the appointment of a “national tree champion”.
  • Establish a £10 million nature-friendly schools programme to allow pupils to plant gardens, tend vegetable patches and set up bird feeders.
  • Eliminate avoidable plastic waste within 25 years, including by encouraging supermarkets to introduce “plastic-free” aisles and considering taxes and charges on single-use items such as takeaway containers.
  • Removing all consumer single-use plastics from the central government estate offices.
  • Extend the 5p charge for plastic carrier bags to all retailers in England, closing the government’s loophole excluding smaller shops.
  • Support water companies, retailers, coffee shops and transport hubs to offer new refill points for people to top-up water bottles free in every large city and town in England.
  • Set up an independent statutory body to hold government to account on the environment.
  • Create measures to assess progress on the 25-year goals and update the plan at least every five years.

However, according to its critics, all this amounts to not very much.  You can read, the ever-readable George Monbiot, for example: "A grand plan to do nothing".  GM begins in a sort-of even-handed way:

"In terms of rhetoric, the 25 Year Environment Plan is in some respects the best government document I’ve ever read. In terms of policy, it ranges from the pallid to the pathetic."

There's a lot of detail in his blog, but you'll have to read that for yourself.  This is how it ends:

"But anything positive that emerges from this plan will be undermined by the oxymoron at its heart: the vision of “clean growth” on which it is built.  We now know that the absolute decoupling of resource use from economic growth is an illusion, and even relative decoupling – consuming less per unit of growth – is slight and unreliable. The more an economy grows, the more resources it will consume.  If it’s not plastic, it will be cardboard, and the cardboard is likely to be made from chewed-up rainforest.  Clamp down on the use of cardboard, and something else will take its place.  An economy that keeps growing on a planet that does not will inevitably burst through environmental limits, however sincere a government might be about seeking to reduce its impacts.  The big conversation we need within government has still not begun. The plastic bottle has been kicked down the road."

That's a great closing sentence, but is the decoupling of resource use from economic growth really a complete illusion?  Is the cardboard I use really made from rainforests?  And you do need to ask where is the workable plan (over 25 years or whenever) for an economy that sustains and enhances human well-being without economic growth, in the face of human self-centredness.

As for me, I cannot see how the 25 YEP is really a plan, let alone a 25 year plan.  It doesn't seem to last for 25 years, and the goals are woolly:

Goal  –  Examples of existing indicators

  • Clean air – Emissions of key pollutants; number of high or moderate air pollution days; area of sensitive habitats with excessive levels of air pollution.
  • Clean and plentiful water – Water quality in rivers and lakes, bathing waters, and groundwater; inputs of hazardous substances to the marine environment.
  • Thriving plants and wildlife – Extent and condition of protected sites on land and at sea; status and trends of wild species and habitats.
  • Reduced risk of harm from environmental hazards – Number of households better protected from flooding.
  • More sustainable and efficient use of resources – Area of sustainably managed and harvested woodland; fish stocks harvested within safe limits; amount of raw materials consumed per person and resource productivity.
  • Enhanced beauty, heritage and engagement with the natural environment – Area of woodland; people visiting the natural environment and volunteering for conservation activities.

See what I mean?  It does at least reference the SDGs.

Meanwhile, maybe nature has a much longer term plan to do something about humans, and is still biding its time.


Is there a 25 year plan for environmental education?

📥  Comment, News and Updates

The government has published its 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment.  Is it, I wondered, too much to hope that this is also a 25 year plan for environmental education?  As a start to thinking about this question, here's a list of how often education-related ideas are mentioned in the document:

Foreword from the Prime Minister – None

Foreword from the Secretary of State – None

Executive summary – None

Introduction: Our new approach to managing the environment

Page 16 – The poorer you are, the more likely it is that your house, and your children’s school and playground are close to highly-polluted roads, and the less likely you are to enjoy ready access to green spaces.  At present, children from minority ethnic backgrounds and lower income homes are the least likely to visit our countryside. This should change, so that everyone has the chance to benefit from getting close to nature and appreciating all it has to offer. In turn, they will want to protect and enhance the world around them.

Page 17 – Over the next 25 years we must safeguard the environment for this generation and many more to come. We plant trees knowing that it will not be us, but our children and grandchildren, who get to enjoy their shade. In the same way, we should take a long view of how our stewardship today can lead to a healthier and culturally richer planet tomorrow.

Chapter 1: Using and managing land sustainably – None

Chapter 2: Recovering nature and enhancing the beauty of landscapes

Page 66 – Actions we will take include ... Working with National Park Authorities to continue to deliver the 8-Point Plan for National Parks 2016-2020. National Park Authorities have already met the target to engage directly with over 60,000 young people a year in schools’ visits, and will double this figure.

Chapter 3: Connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing

Page 71 – We will ... Encourage children to be close to nature, in and out of school, with particular focus on disadvantaged areas.  Make 2019 a year of action for the environment, working with Step Up To Serve and other partners to help children and young people from all backgrounds to engage with nature and improve the environment.

A number of outdoor sports and leisure organisations, green space managers, environmental organisations and schools encourage people to participate in activities in green spaces.  The forest school approach encourages children to explore nature and have a relationship with the outdoors. The new science and geography curriculum and qualifications encourage pupils to undertake fieldwork as part of their course of study.

Page 72 Farms in both rural and urban locations host groups of school children and share their knowledge about the environment and where food comes from. ... The number of people who spend little or no time in natural spaces is too high.  Recent data from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment survey tells us that some 12% of children do not visit the natural environment each year. ... In healthcare and school settings, and despite some excellent examples of pioneering practice, the possible benefits of contact with nature to promote good mental health or support early interventions for mental health problems are often overlooked.  Care farms are working farms that provide health, social or educational care services for individuals from one or a range of vulnerable groups.

Page 73 – Through existing commitments made in Sporting Future – a New Strategy for an Active Nation, and in line with our ambition to reduce childhood obesity, the Government supports programmes that encourage physical activity, including in outdoor settings. ... We will scope out how we could connect people more systematically with green space to improve mental health, using the natural environment as a resource for preventative and therapeutic purposes.  This will be in line with the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health and support the Government’s new commitments on children’s mental health.

Page 74 – We will launch a three-year ‘Natural Environment for Health and Wellbeing’ programme, focused on supporting local authorities, health organisations, health professionals, teachers and planners in promoting the natural environment as a pathway to good health and wellbeing.  Mental health problems and early interventions will be an initial area of interest, however the programme will be charged with considering other health issues, such as obesity, where children and adults would benefit from better access to nature.

Page 75 – Encouraging children to be close to nature, in and out of school.  Playing and learning outside is a fundamental part of childhood, and helps children grow up healthy.  Playing and learning outside is a fundamental part of childhood, and helps children grow up healthy. Some children are lucky enough to have a family garden; others will not and it is important that we find other ways to give them better access to the great outdoors. We know that regular contact with green spaces, such as the local park, lake, or playground, can have a beneficial impact on children’s physical and mental health.  The initiatives we outline below are designed to encourage and support outdoor activities, particularly where a child has no access to a family garden. Government will make available £10m of funding to support these initiatives.

Helping primary schools create nature-friendly grounds.  We will launch a Nature Friendly Schools Programme to help more communities create the kind of school grounds that support learning about the natural world and also keep children happy and healthy.  The government will provide support for schools in our most disadvantaged areas that wish to create nature friendly grounds and to design and run activities that support pupil’s health and wellbeing through contact with nature.  Actions we will take include developing a Nature Friendly Schools programme for schools in our most disadvantaged areas with input from stakeholders that can be opened to schools from autumn 2018.

Page 76 – Supporting more pupil contact with local natural spaces.  We want to make it easier for schools and Pupil Referral Units to take pupils on trips to natural spaces on a regular basis where they can combine learning with feeling healthier and happier. This might involve class visits to a city farm, a local nature reserve, woodland or National Park.  In cases of individual need, a pupil might go to a care farm on a bespoke itinerary.

Actions we will take include: Developing a programme to support schools and Pupil Referral Units in our most disadvantaged areas in establishing progressive programmes of nature contact for their pupils, which can be opened to schools from autumn 2019; Supporting the expansion of school outreach activities delivered by community forests. Supporting a national expansion of care farming by 2022, trebling the number of places to 1.3m per year for children and adults in England.

Page 79 – [the] award winning ‘Nature4Health’ programme encourages local communities at risk of developing health problems such as diabetes, obesity or depression, to get out into the Forest through conservation activities, mindful walking and forest schools, significantly improving their physical and mental health.

Page 80 – Our goal is to see more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the natural world. We will make 2019 a year of action for the environment, putting children and young people at its heart. This year of green action will provide a focal-point for organisations that run environmental projects, and will encourage wider participation.

Evidence suggests that while many people are already keen to get out there and help the environment, we should aim for many more to do so.  Among younger people alone, and across all kinds of social action, the government-funded National Youth Social Action survey of 2016, found that in a group of 10-20 year olds, 42% of young people participated in meaningful social action, whilst another 42% took no part in social action.

Helping children and young people from all backgrounds to engage with nature and improve the environment.  Working with Step Up to Serve, #iwill campaign partners, and other youth and environmental partners, we will develop an environment theme for the #iwill campaign in 2019 ... .

Page 81 – We will work with partners from the environmental and youth sectors to promote environmental opportunities that attract young people from all backgrounds.  As part of this, we will work with the National Citizen Service (NCS) Trust, to enable more participants to have contact with and improve natural environments both during the NCS experience and afterwards.  We will engage young people in the design of this programme. Legacy partnerships will sustain opportunities for young people to engage with the environment into the future.

Actions we will take include: [i] In partnership with Step Up to Serve, supporting the 2019 #iwill environment-themed year, with design input from young people; [ii] Evaluating progress in increasing young people’s environmental social action, including #iwill campaign activity in 2019, and sharing lessons to sustain good practice; At the same time, exploring with youth sector partners the potential for piloting a natural environment programme with youth groups that encourages use of natural environments through social action.  This would aim to reach more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Page 82 – Supporting the 2019 year of green action.  Government will build on the 70th anniversary of National Parks and the centenary of the Forestry Commission and #iwill campaign activities in 2019 to encourage adults and children to take positive steps to help the natural environment.  We will focus on the simple things that people can do, and how these also support good health.

A series of public engagement activities for 2019 will link to initiatives on waste reduction, cleaner air or other aspects of pro-environmental behaviour. We will look to get the business community and voluntary sectors involved in these activities, and urge them, with the education sector, to develop their own initiatives throughout the year to engage communities and raise awareness.

Chapter 4: Increasing resource efficiency and reducing pollution and waste

Page 91 – The Litter Strategy for England sets out our aim to clean up the country and cut both litter and littering behaviours by means of better education, enforcement and ‘binfrastructure’ (the design, number and location of public litter bins and so on).  We will deliver a new national anti-litter campaign and work on developing a culture that teaches young people not to litter.

Page 94 – ... waste fires can cause significant disruption to roads, railways and schools, making lives a misery.

Chapter 5: Securing clean, healthy, productive and biologically diverse seas and oceans – None

Chapter 6: Protecting and improving our global environment

Page 113 – We are also committed to protected cultural and natural heritage around the world. The UK’s heritage organisations deliver education, training, consultancy, conservation and renovation programmes to many parts of the globe.  Many heritage professionals and practitioners from other countries come to the UK each year to develop their skills, learn about heritage protection and management in the UK, and benefit from the knowledge of our heritage sector.

Putting the Plan into practice

Page 147 – The RSPB joined forces with Barratt Developments to set a new benchmark for nature friendly housing developments – the first national agreement of its kind in the UK.  At Kingsbrook, some 2,450 new homes, new schools and community facilities have been designed in a way that puts nature at the heart of proposals. ...  Aylesbury Vale District Council has been instrumental in promoting this approach from the start and are now looking to adopt these principles in planning their garden town.  This is good for people and business as well as wildlife.  Barratt expects the value and saleability of its homes to be improved by the quality of greenspace and there is evidence that local businesses can also be boosted by a green setting.  For the community, greenspace can improve children’s educational prospects and their connection to nature, and contribute to improved mental and physical health and wellbeing.  The Kingsbrook project will be carried out over about a decade with a comprehensive monitoring programme, developed and overseen by RSPB scientists.

Page 149 – Business in the Community works to create healthy communities with successful business at their heart.  As well as their Landscape Enterprise Network initiative referenced above, BITC’s Water Resilient Cities programme has been working with schools and NHS sites in Manchester to explore an innovative way of financing the retrofitting of sustainable drainage features (SuDS – e.g. green roofs and rain gardens).  A scoping study has identified benefits from a strategic roll out of SuDS in public estates across Greater Manchester, having investigated the time taken to pay back the upfront capital costs through savings made from reduced surface water charges in the schools’ water bills.  The SuDS measures would bring benefits to the schools and wider communities in the form of air and water quality, flood risk reduction, education, health, carbon sequestration, urban cooling and biodiversity.  More information is available on the BITC website.

Re-Questing for Holism

📥  Comment, News and Updates

I see that one of my papers (with Andrew Stables): The Quest for Holism in Education for Sustainable Development is being included in: Environmental and Sustainability Education Policy: International Trends, Priorities and Challenges, edited by Katrien Van Poeck, Jonas A. Lysgaard, and Alan Reid, and published by Routledge.

The blurb begins:

"This timely collection surveys and critiques studies of environmental and sustainability education (ESE) policy since the mid-1990s. The volume draws on a wide range of policy studies and syntheses to provide readers with insights into the international genealogy and priorities of ESE policy.  Editors and contributors call for renewed attention to the possibilities for future directions in light of previously published work and innovations in scholarship.  They also offer critical commentary on the evolution of research trends, approaches and findings. ...`'

As ever, it's nice to have made the cut.  The full set of past papers is:

1. The roots and routes of environmental and sustainability education policy research    Jonas A. Lysgaard, Alan Reid and Katrien Van Poeck

2. A Case Study of Dilemmas and Tensions: the writing and consultation process involved in developing a national guideline document for environmental education    Barry Law and Robyn Baker

3. Science: an unreliable friend to environmental education?    Martin Ashley

4. On the need to repoliticise environmental and sustainability education: rethinking the postpolitical consensus    Louise Sund and Johan Öhman

5. Education policy mobility: reimagining sustainability in neoliberal times    Marcia McKenzie, Andrew Bieler and Rebecca McNeil

6. The Quest for Holism in Education for Sustainable Development    Andrew Stables and William Scott

7. Tensions and transitions in policy discourse: recontextualizing a decontextualized EE/ESD debate    Robert B. Stevenson

8. Unsettling orthodoxies: education for the environment/for sustainability    Jo-Anne Ferreira

9. Education for sustainable development (ESD): the turn away from ‘environment’ in environmental education?    Helen Kopnina

10. Environmental Literacy: functional, cultural, critical. The case of the SCAA guidelines    Andrew Stables

11. Education for Sustainable Development, governmentality and Learning to Last    John Blewitt

12. The action competence approach and the ‘new’ discourses of education for sustainable development, competence and quality criteria    Finn Mogensen and Karsten Schnack

13. Pluralism in practice – experiences from Swedish evaluation, school development and research    Karin Rudsberg and Johan Öhman

14. Environmental education policy research – challenges and ways research might cope with them    Jeppe Læssøe, Noah Weeth Feinstein and Nicole Blum

15. Taking stock of the UN Decade of education for sustainable development: the policy-making process in Flanders    Katrien Van Poeck, Joke Vandenabeele and Hans Bruyninckx

16. Globalisation and education for sustainable development: exploring the global in motion    Stefan L. Bengtsson and Leif O. Östman

17. Environmental and sustainability education policy research: a systematic review of methodological and thematic trends    Kathleen Aikens, Marcia McKenzie and Philip Vaughter

As it happens, The Quest for Holism is one of my most cited papers, though not amongst the few I'd most prefer to be most cited.


When a tiger tried to walk home

📥  Comment, News and Updates

The Christmas edition of The Economist had a long feature – A tiger's tale  – on the plight of the tiger in India today.  It focused on a 5-year old male – known as T3 to its minders – that, in 2009, was shipped from the Pench tiger reserve to the Panna reserve some 650 km to the north.  Finding things not much to its liking, T3 promptly broke out and set off to walk home.  The article tells the story of the month-long pursuit of T3 by 70 men and 5 elephants.  The story had a positive outcome as far as T3 and the Panna are concerned (and the elephants and humans), but the wider story about the tiger's future in India is clearly less positive as the article's ending illustrates:

"... Panna remains both fortified and fragile.  India’s human population is still growing, the trade in tiger parts persists.  The long-term survival of tigers lies in aligning their interests with an improvement of local people’s lives—of being a sight people believe is worth seeing, and which people will come to look at when they can.

For such magnificence to depend for its future on being instagrammable seems to offend against dignity.  But what else is there? The obsessively monitored fortresses cannot last forever, and they are hardly the natural habitats they were once believed to be.  There will always be wildness in the ways of animals—in what they choose, unbidden, to pursue.  But to seek the natural, in India as elsewhere, must also be to accept that the world of the wild is shared with, and shaped by, humans; to be a human who loves nature is to try and make that sharing work.  The idea of powerful creatures in the vast untouched wilderness has a sublime thrill to it.  It also has a certain cosiness; it is the imaginary ideal where many human ideas about nature grew up.  But as T3 discovered after he swam across the Ken, you really can’t go home again. “The old world is gone, ... We cannot bring it back.”

This article has rich detail and is the sort of thing that needs to be read by anyone who wants to understand what (if anything) might realistically be done about conservation where human development conflicts with the wild.  It might have been written specifically about India and the tiger, but it has applicability much more widely.


New life in Paris

📥  Comment, News and Updates

I was surprised at the positive tone of the Economist's December 14th articleNew life for the Paris climate deal – A flurry of meetings should help curb greenhouse-gas emissions. But the global agreement is still essential.   I felt like that because of how gloomy the paper had been a couple of weeks earlier about the chances of getting enough CO2 out of the atmosphere to limit climate change and keep the temperature rise to ~1.5 degrees above historic levels.  As the paper noted, because we are already at +1.0 degrees ±x (where x might be around 25%) and the excess carbon in the system will just keep adding to that, it's not just a question of stopping adding carbon, but of removing some of what's already there.  We have no idea how to do that.

There were, of course new pledges.  The Economist said that these, and ...

"the pomp, were intended to breathe new life into the Paris deal.  America’s planned departure did not strike it a mortal blow, as some greens feared it would. It may even have nudged the last two holdouts, Nicaragua and Syria, to sign up in November.  But the pledges made so far are inadequate, and many are conditional on other countries keeping their side of the bargain.  Fresh momentum is sorely needed."

The paper remains hopeful despite writing this:

"This year’s “Emissions Gap” report from the UN, published in October, shows that the first set of climate pledges submitted by 164 countries corresponds to barely a third of the cut in emissions needed to keep warming below 2°C (see chart).  Studies suggest that these “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) would probably result in temperatures 2.9-3.4°C higher than in pre-industrial times—and that only if they are fully implemented, which seems unlikely."

In order to get a lot of governments on board, the Paris Agreement was vague about how its goal was to be reached.  For example, by 2018, countries are supposed to agree how to [i] calculate, [ii] review and [iii] increase their NDCs.  The Economist noted that:

"Reaching consensus on what counts as a reduction in emissions, and who should monitor progress, will be delicate, admits Patricia Espinosa, the head of the UN climate secretariat.  In Bonn (at CIP23), striking a tentative agreement on something as basic as deciding what to discuss during the coming year counted as a coup."

To add to the gloom, COP24 will be in Poland in the heart of the coal district.  This is how the article ended:

"Don’t forget Paris

But for all the importance of subnational green efforts, the UN climate process is still essential. It is the only mechanism available for chivvying stragglers to do more. And if global warming is to be kept within reasonable bounds, action will be needed not just by the most committed, but also from those currently doing little or nothing. The Paris deal’s voluntary, flexible nature means that it is national pledges, backed by legislation, that collectively add up to global climate governance. Mr Macron’s summit can be judged a success if it reminds the world of this fact."

As I said at the outset, I was surprised by the positive tone of all this.  For a contrary view, go here.



Suspected as a bot

📥  Comment, New Publications

This is a first for me: I have been suspected as a bot by WordPress as I tried to post a response on my friend Richard Jurin's new blog.

Richard's first post was:

As my first blog post, I will present my simple definition of sustainability as: Living within the limits of nature’s ecosystem services. And to live together in communities that are equitable, regenerative, resilient and adaptive.  That opens up a lot of questions before we start and I intend to get there as the blog proceeds.  I am not naive and clearly recognize that some big changes are needed before we land in some future Eden (we should not think paradise, although compared to today, it may seem so when we get there).  Notice I said ‘get there.’  In all my talks I start out with “I’m often asked: “Will we ever become a Sustainable Society?” I always answer: “Without a doubt.”  Then I get the wistful smiles waiting for the magic bullet answer.  Sorry there isn’t one, but there are a set of principles that can guide us down that path – or should I say rabbit hole, because we have to get dirty before we can realize the truths that exist all around us that we blatantly ignore.  So if you want to climb down this rabbit hole, give me a response and let’s begin!  

Peace and Love   Richard

And I responded:

It's good to see this beginning, Richard.  I shall follow your thinking with great interest.  I appreciate seeing your definition of sustainability, even though I find it wanting.  I've taken to expressing the core dilemma of our time in this way:

How can we all live well, now and in the future, without compromising the ability of the planet to enable us all to live well?

Some call this the 'sustainability problématique', and for me, the key words in this are "all" and "all".  That is, it's communities everywhere that need to be "equitable, regenerative, resilient and adaptive" if we are to see sustainability.  I am, it should be said, much less hopeful than you are than humanity will be able to rise above its manifest self-interest to get anywhere near this.

But, being a bot in the WordPress view, this did not make the cut.  Whilst it is really good to see social media companies cracking down (and not before time) on injurious text, little did I think I'd be on the front line.  Maybe it was those two French words – scare bleu! ...



NAAEE looks ahead to 2018

📥  Comment, News and Updates

I was pleased to get a mention in NAEE's end-0f-year message of appreciation of effort and achievement, and hope for 2018 and beyond.  This came from Judy Braus, the NAAEE Executive Director.  You will find it here, and it's certainly worth a read.

On balance, Winston Churchill gets more mentions than I do, but there is no one who could begrudge that (not even me on my very best days).  Judy's theme was optimism and perseverance, and so you can see why Churchill is a good model for benighted folk everywhere.  Although not an optimist (see this), I do believe in persevering.



A Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition

📥  Comment, News and Updates

This, as you probably know, is not Mr Gove's latest plan to square the post-Brexit farming–environment circle.  Rather, it's the name of France's energy / environment ministry which is now located in an 18th century mansion close to the Elysée Palace.

It's easy to scoff – Wikipedia has the history of title changes of this ministry – and France also has a Ministry for Solidarity and Health, but there is something in the combination of words: Ecological and Inclusive Transition that is key to understanding sustainability; something about the umbilical link between people and nature, and between people in nature, and people as part of nature.  I hope this embodiment finds its way from the title to the ministry's actual practice.  I note, however, that there's a separate ministry of agriculture and food which, I guess, must be 100% focused on keeping the CAP focused on French interests.


OECD debases its currency

📥  Comment, News and Updates

I see that the OECD Directorate of Education and Skills has launched its new PISA Global Competence Framework.  This is to be the basis for the 2018 PISA assessment.

OECD (that should really now be OECDGC) says:

Learning to participate in interconnected, complex and diverse societies is no longer a luxury but a pressing necessity. Recognising the unique roles that schools play in preparing our youth to participate in our world, PISA has developed a framework to explain, foster and assess adolescents’ global competence.  The framework is designed as a tool for policy makers, leaders, and teachers interested in nurturing global competence among young people world wide.

Good luck, I'd say.  OECDGC defines global competence like this:

Global competence is the capacity to examine local, global and intercultural issues, to understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others, to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with people from different cultures, and to act for collective well-being and sustainable development.

And it has a yingy-yangy sort of model to go with this balcony.  And why do we need all this?  Well, OECDGC says it's because we need to ...

  • live harmoniously in multicultural communities
  • thrive in a changing labour market
  • use media platforms effectively and responsibly
  • support the Sustainable Development Goals

What a dog's breakfast of a rationale.  I was surprised not to see 'dispose of waste responsibly', 'drive carefully', and 'drink sensibly' in there.  Andreas Schleicher, OECDGC Director for Education and Skills tries to explain it all (away) in a blog.

My real concern, however, in all this nonsense is that in order to get a good PISA grade from now on it will not be enough to give a good answer; rather, you'll have to know what OCEDGC wants the answer to be, which is a different thing altogether.  I fear it can only give aid and comfort to those governments who have been looking for ways to boost their PISA scores without actually bothering to teach children anything useful.

Unhappy New Year.


The Office for Students

📥  Comment, News and Updates

The Office for Students [OfS] opened for business on New Year's Day, and so let me offer a belated and partial (in every sense) welcome.  It promises to be highly contentious; indeed it is so already – see this stout defence of a prominent Board member.  I've been trying to find the OfS website, but I mostly get links to Microsoft's 'office for students'.  Did no one notice that this might be a problem?

Looking more closely at the OfS Board membership, it seems that the student in question is Ruth Carlson.  DfE says that she ...

"is a current student at Surrey University, where she is a Student Ambassador for civil engineering. She has experience as a course representative, as a former president of the Surrey University Women’s Football Team and has also worked in other institutional and regional representative forums."

There is a large burden resting on her (no doubt very capable) shoulders as the one student member of a 15 strong Board comprising a selection of the great 'n' good.  But you do have to wonder how, from the countless zillions of students, Carlson was selected?   Maybe it was the football that swung it for Jo Johnson ...

Happy New Year.