As the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys opens its Tong Centre for research, head of school Ken Moffat outlines the vision for it
Schools don’t have research centres. The Langton now has two.
This underpins our paradoxical belief that we don’t actually know what it is that we want our students to learn.
Too often in this country “education” means learning what everybody else has learned before. Research means learning what nobody has ever learned before.
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The first three years at The Langton are based around our own history of ideas programme looking at the timeline of human existence and the very best that has been done, learned or thought by humans.
From this, our students are then prepared to step off and shape their own learning.
Of course, in order to do this, we have to reject the exam-based agenda that has driven the educational “philosophy” of successive governments and has driven education in Britain into crisis.
Exams may be necessary, but they are an insufficient measure of the progress of schools and/or students.
Too many headteachers have blindly followed poorly thought out government doctrine as though receiving the sacred stones of Sinai.
The concept of league tables for schools is as risible as it is iniquitous and has narrowed the focus for too many schools for too long.
When I was at school in the 70s, I was taught by a lot of people who shouldn’t have been teaching, but what they were trying to teach me was worth knowing. Now it is the other way round. Great teachers, poor curriculum.
And so we will continue to wind up our senior students and see just how far they can progress without the parameters of a curriculum with boundaries.
In science we have generated data which feeds CERN and NASA. In the humanities we created the Langton Press for the publication of the best work our students can create.
Now watch this space for what we can do with the Tong Centre for Creative Research.