When we were asked to write something about how we saw the education market, we asked ourselves “What can a design agency know about education?”
Well, because we maintain that it’s vital to have an intimate knowledge about the people and products that we work with (great when we had the Mercedes account at Leo Burnett). We felt we had to put pen to paper in a considered fashion. So here goes…
Teachers Know Best.
What with the kerfuffle over the current examination system it’s no wonder teachers are exasperated. For decades generations of students have been subjected to ever-increasing scrutiny regarding their ‘performance’ throughout their school lives. First it was O-levels and CSEs followed by GCSEs and the introduction of SATs etc, etc. And now, it is proposed to reintroduce the two-tier system that is polarising opinions not only within the profession but within society at large.
How should excellence in education be measured?
As in business, the consumers’ perception is crucial. All parents would wish their child to receive an education deemed to be ‘excellent’. Sadly, for the vast majority of parents and students, ‘excellence’ has been measured by the grade awarded at the end of Years 11 and 13. For schools still participating in the SATs at Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 the story is the same. There has been much debate about the efficacy of our examination system and whether or not the preparation for these examinations is in fact ‘an education’.
All the Examining Boards, naturally, will be vying for the Pole Position. This is nothing new. Education in the UK has traditionally been regarded as ‘world class’ but in today’s marketplace its prestige has become tarnished. Rather than focusing on the quality of the education it provides, the Government has focused on league tables of achievement. Lip service is paid to the concept of ‘value-added’ achievement but the tyranny of the league tables overshadows everything. Surely the yardstick of excellence should be the progress each student makes rather than whether or not they are awarded a C or above grade?
Can we raise real standards in education?
The inherent difficulty in education is of course the nature of the product. The provision of a first-rate education system lies at the heart of our society and therefore it should not be manipulated by slick marketing that can distort both successes and failures.
Is our education system keeping pace with the rest of the world?
Sir Michael Barber’s comments echo the misgivings that many people are currently voicing. His observations of the global classroom highlight that if we are to continue to produce world-class engineers and doctors, for example, there is much we can learn. The current dilemma has arisen because universities and businesses report that students and prospective employees are not equipped to deal with the challenges that they now face. The CBI has already noted the widening skills gap.
So how far should Government tweak the system? Reform from the ground up, together with advice from a few educated heads from the world of business would be a good start.
At the very least, if this supertanker of a system is to be turned around, it would be helpful to have a few wise men on the bridge.
Ignition Idea: Why not introduce a ‘Foundation’ aspect to GCSE, to be introduced in Year 9, thereby adding breadth to subject scope and smoothing the path through to a qualification of real integrity?
Ignition is a graphic design agency with extensive expertise in the education sector. Why not contact us for a more creative take on your school’s current design and marketing communications?