Ofsted warns teachers against ‘gimmicks’ such as Brain GymRuth Mabhiza
Ofsted chief says schools must get back to basics and not rely on an ‘elixir’ to raise standards.
Spielman reminded her audience that the efficacy of most fashionable educational tools had been debunked. Photograph: Graham Turner/for the Guardian
The chief inspector of schools in England has warned teachers and policymakers against resting their hopes on the latest educational gimmicks and urged them instead to focus on getting the basics right.
Launching her second annual report as head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman advised against the likes of Brain Gym, a controversial programme of exercises favoured by some schools that claims to improve children’s cognitive ability.
Asked later to elaborate on other gimmicks, the schools watchdog came up with a list including interactive whiteboards, adherence to so-called learning styles and a growing enthusiasm in some schools for fidget spinners to aid concentration.
Instead, to get children on the path to success, Spielman said the most important thing was to get the basics right, and that began with early literacy.
Speaking on Tuesday to an audience of education professionals and policy experts in Westminster, the chief inspector said that despite the fact that many fashionable educational gimmicks had been debunked, there was still an appetite among educationalists to find the next “great white hope”.
“Some policymakers and practitioners are constantly looking for the next magic potion that will infallibly raise standards,” she said. “Indeed, despite the history of snake oil, white elephants and fashionable gimmicks that have in the main been debunked, there remains a curious optimism that the elixir of education is just around the corner.
“But the truth is, we don’t need an elixir to help raise standards, because we already have the tried and tested ingredients we need … Instead, to put all children on the path to success, the most important thing is to get the basics right, which begins with early literacy.”
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Ofsted warns teachers against ‘gimmicks’ such as Brain Gym.