Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jamie's Dream School - House of Commons Education Committee

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 36-62)


21 JUNE 2011

Q36 Chair: Good morning. May I welcome the second panel this morning to discuss Jamie's Dream School? It's a great pleasure to have you with us today. It's a very large panel, so I must ask that you try to keep your answers as pithy and to the point as the previous panellists did with such clear distinction. I think the discipline issue may be more difficult with you than it was with them. Can I start by asking you in what way your experience of Dream School changed your views of the education system and the way that teaching and the support of teaching should be approached? Shall I start with the sainted John? [The Dream School Headmaster]

John D'Abbro: I think it's probably reaffirmed some of my views on education. As we have already heard, it made me understand more clearly just how we're all different. We all have different talents, we all have different preferred learning styles, and we all learn in different ways and with different approaches. One of the challenges for us in our education system is how we can maximise the creativity and the diversity of our culture, so that we use the experience of schooling to give us the best fruits for our society. It didn't really surprise me; some things weren't different.

I did have a different perspective on Latin, and I should say—I'm not saying this because Mary's sitting next to me—because of my own chequered school career, I never had the opportunity of doing Latin. But one thing I do believe we should be teaching at school is learning skills and thinking skills. And it seems to me that one of the great things about Latin is you've got the opportunity to do thinking skills—which I want to promote—and learn a language at the same time. And what surprised me, if I'm being honest—no disrespect, Mary—was how engaged some of the youngsters were. You know, 25% of the youngsters opted to do additional Latin. If you'd said that to me at the beginning of the series, I would have said that was a bit whacky.

[Later on]
John D'Abbro: .... If you had asked me before the series I would have said Latin was a posh language, and I have learned something different. It has changed my parameters on Latin and things.

Q53 Charlotte Leslie MP (Balliol): There's an awful lot I want to ask, but first I'm just going to say to Mary and John that as a classicist, I'm so pleased that the merits of Latin have been discovered and that, hopefully, in the future it will not be the preserve of the posh, because that's wrong.

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