Bronze and a lot of Silver and Gold – has CLOtC overstepped the Mark?

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

There was a nice blog on the NAEE website last week about the Learning Outside the Classroom [LOtC] Mark.  This is a UK national accreditation for schools which, NAEE says:

"recognises existing provision and also assists schools to develop LOtC further."

Schools can apply for the Mark at Bronze, Silver or Gold level.  The NAEE post goes onto suggest a number of (to me) sensible protocols that might govern such a scheme.  These are that such schemes should ...

[i] get progressively much more difficult as you go from bronze to silver to gold, and that it should be really hard to get gold;

[ii] that all awards should be time-limited;

[iii] that the top awards should be dependent on accreditation visits by trained judges; and

[iv] that the criteria for awards should be reviewed regularly with the aid of an independent expert group.

Clearly, CLOtC has put a lot of thought into all this, as its guidance book shows, and as you read it, it shows that a number of (but not all) the protocols identified by NAEE were in their mind as they thought the Mark through.  The criteria (in 6 sections) are certainly very detailed, and there is also progression in each of the sections as you go from bronze to silver to gold.

As I read it in detail, I had two thoughts:

  1. there is little in it that demands evidence of learning specific to LOtC
  2. it seems relatively easy to get silver and gold

Why do I say this?  Well, with [1], at Gold level, the criteria for measuring impact are:

  • In addition to evaluating academic progress, the organisation has procedures in place to monitor less tangible outcomes, e.g. behaviour, level of engagement and confidence.
  • Records are kept of improvements in all areas and these are communicated to parents and governors, both as statistics and as individual reports/case studies
  • Each child has a personal LOtC development plan which is used in evaluating the success of the activities he/she has been involved in

These seem to be about "procedures", "records" and "plans".  They are not about actual impact and learning.

With [2], although it's early days, a map of successful schools shows the following numbers of awards:

Bronze – 54

Silver – 28

Gold – 15

This is a very high proportion of silver and gold.  If these are too easy to get, they will hardly be worth having.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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