The end of school?

Knowsley Council is going to close down all of its 11 Secondary schools and replace them with 8 Learning Centres. These will be open longer hours and offer more flexible, personalised learning pathways for all learners in the borough whatever their age. It forms part of the Building Schools for the Future programme. Personalised learning has been a huge theme in Knowsley for a long time, I even attended a keynote speech on the subject at a Network Learning Conference back in 2004. However it seems to suddenly be in the news.
Earlier in the month Stephen Downes’ Old Daily picked up this post from Graham Attwell’s Wales Wide Web. He sees this as

the first big crack in the present model of schooling which dates from the first industrial revolution. And it won’t be the last.

Attwell then goes on to quote from an article in the Independent on May 14th which called this a “dramatic step” and reported in some depth the proposed changes to the Learning Centre day.

The style of learning will be completely different. The new centres will open from 7am until 10pm in both term-time and what used to be known as the school holidays. At weekends, they will open from 9am to 8pm.
Youngsters will not be taught in formal classes, nor will they stick to a rigid timetable; instead they will work online at their own speeds on programmes that are tailor-made to match their interests.
Children will be able to study haircare, beauty therapy, leisure and tourism, and engineering as well as the more traditional academic subjects.

A pdf document from 2006 available from the Knowsley Council web site clearly states that the proposals were first made in 2004;

In the Statement of Implementation(2004) Knowsley set out its plans to replace all 11 existing secondary schools with 8 new learning centres. These are being carried forward through Building Schools for the Future.

Mr Read sounds a cautious note about Microsoft’s involvement with the plans and I must admit what jumped out at me was that the bit about working their way through “tailor- made programmes”. I do hope they get the chance to work on something like Extreme Learning and not end up slogging their way through something like CLAIT . (Groans at the memory – oh, how I loathed CLAIT!)
It’s an amazing chance to re-invent the experience of secondary education for the teenagers of Knowlsey. I wonder what they’ll make of it…….


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