I hope you, your family and friends are all okay. The start of a new academic year usually brings a 'back-to-normality' vibe for me; I wish it were more so this year.
We have all been besieged by articles on 'how x will change post COVID-19'. I am yet to read anything really convincing on what will change in education. Teaching; curriculums; exams; schooling in general: I'm not saying they shouldn't change but I've seen little to convince me that they will.
I hope you enjoy this autumnal Scoop and please get in touch if anything resonates.
Very warm regards,
Founder & Director, Keystone Tutors
Pushing on with our mission to professionalise tutoring, we have recruited our biggest intake ever. We welcome 12 new full-time salaried tutors to Keystone, and are busy filling up their schedules. See their profiles here and get in touch if we can help.
We successfully ran our first Keystone University Programme, helping bright children from under-resourced backgrounds apply to some of the UK's top universities. One participating student wrote:
"I just want to say a big thank you to you and the rest of the team for the abundance of support, time and dedication in making the course intriguing, beneficial and educational, but also the time that has been spent simply on calls with me trying to help me make the best decision for myself! I really do appreciate the time you all have taken out of your busy schedule to help me."
Having a team of full-time tutors allows us to pursue and commit to such projects, as well as support others. We were delighted to partner with Godolphin & Latymer's Bridge Programme over the summer too.
We have three webinars coming up this week and one later in October.
- Later this morning (at 10am) we have a webinar on Top Tips for School Entrance Interviews - Keystone’s Director of Education Ed Richardson will be joined by Charlie Bostock, Registrar at Uppingham School and Philip Lough, former Headmaster of Windlesham House School, The Hall, and Westminster Under School to discuss their top tips for school entrance interviews.
- 21st Century Schooling - do new times require new schools? I'll be interrogating the Director of Teaching and Learning at Eton and a Pioneer of a new '21st Century School' in Guildford.
- 7+/8+ - Keystone's Director of Education, Ed Richardson, will be joined by Dee Francken, former senior teacher at the North London Collegiate School, and Steph Kitson-Smith, one of Keystone's most experienced tutors, to discuss the 7 and 8+.
- Top Tips for University Interviews - Harriet Blomefield, Keystone's Head of Consultancy, will be joined by Ed Richardson, our Director of Education and Jenny McGowan, our Director in Asia to discuss University Interviews. They will also provide some top tips to aid the process.
Please do push through that Zoom fatigue and come; and please feel free to pass on to anyone who would find them interesting. Recordings will also be available on our blog after each event.
We're attracting good audience numbers, and are really keen to do more - so please let me know if there are topics you'd like us to address and we'll do our best to line up some specialists.
Keystone Online Courses - GCSE, IGCSE and Oxbridge Entrance Tests
Following some successful experimentation during lock-down we are are now running a number of online group courses. Coming up in the weeks ahead, experienced tutors from the Keystone team will be leading subject specific classes for GCSE, IGCSE, as well as those approaching aptitude tests for Oxbridge. Do take a look at our full courses listings.
Homeschooling / Learning Pods
Are these an indication of innovations to come?
Our own homeschooling is growing, and we are offering our own version of the Pod service; it will be interesting to see what uptake is like.
Some pieces in the Critic
I took advantage of having a bit more time in lockdown to try to crystallize some inchoate thinking on the direction of the independent sector today. They provoked a good response: mostly favourable; some trenchantly hostile! Do shout if you want to discuss any of them further,
- The National Tutoring Programme - my take on the government's £1BN fund directed at tutoring
- We should celebrate, not mourn, the cancellation of exams
- Transforming the Elite - why we should move beyond bursaries & social mobility as a policy goal
If you want to read really good writing on education, David James, newly appointed Deputy Head of LEH, has written some blistering pieces in the Critic here.
Career Education & HE
I've been reading more about education & employability skills since a webinar we ran on the subject over the summer. I remain skeptical as to what employment has to say to the -18 curriculum for most schools, though David Goodhart's recent book and Gavin Williamson's rejection of Blair's 50% university target does herald some fresh thinking on the subject of vocational education. It is hard not to conclude that HE faces headwinds on almost all fronts. I thought this news that Google is getting into the degree certification game was fascinating, but spells more trouble ahead for a beleaguered sector.
My #1 source for all things graduate recruitment, James Darley, provides this update: 25% of Graduate Employers (ISE, June 2020) say they will be reducing their intakes in 2021.
James and his wife Andrea offer excellent (and excellent value) consultations for families on navigating the labryinth of graduate recruitment here.
David Attenborough in your classroom - first come first served opportunity!
I have been closely following, and in a very small way assisting with, the development of a new educational service for families called Itza. Here is an opportunity to get involved in their initial launch. Says the Founder,
"We’re about to launch Get Set, which includes a fun online quiz for schools - the GET SET GLOBAL CHALLENGE - which teaches children about sustainability and how to preserve the natural world. Students prepare independently online by using footage from the new David Attenborough movie A LIFE ON OUR PLANET which is in cinemas next week and then comes out on Netflix next month.
We’re selecting 100 schools from around the world for this test and plan to have only 40 schools from the UK. School registration is now OPEN and it's first come, first served:
Materials are released to children in November and the final quiz will be on Friday December 4th and can be staged in the classroom as a live event or completed by students in their own time later that day."
Please do let me know any feedback.
Did you know?
Biden/Harris is the first Democratic ticket without an Ivy League degree since 1984.
(Biden was at the University of Delaware and Syracuse; Harris at Howard University and UC Hastings College of the Law.)
My regular section profiling tutors who have passed through our halls over the years (Alex Starritt's novel, profiled previously, was in the NYT's recommended reads over the summer. Their review here.)
- Degree Subject and University – Psychology and Philosophy, Oxford University followed by Masters Degree in Cognitive Science at Paris Descartes University
- What did Ed tutor with Keystone? Maths; English; Psychology
- What is Ed doing now? Leading UK EdTech Entrepeneur and Founder of Memrise.
Ed read Psychology and Philosophy at Oxford University before completing a Masters Degree in Cognitive Science at Paris Descartes University. He worked as a generalist tutor for Keystone, supporting multiple students through Scholarship and Oxbridge Preparation. Ed is a British Entrepreneur and author of Remember, Remember: Learn the Stuff You Thought You Never Could. He is also a Grand Master of Memory and co-founder of Memrise, which won best app at the Google Play awards.
Follow Ed on Twitter.
- We'll be closely following the mooted changes to GCSEs as they come. Best piece I've read from the pressure group behind the change is here.
- Africa & Asia Venture offer parents and students a free initial GAP year advisory session - contact through their website here.
- Ashbourne College is offering 100% bursaries for talented students in Music, Drama and English Literature. Very generous of them, and what a civilized choice of subjects.
- I much enjoyed Harry Mount's praising of 'useless knowledge' in the Spectator: how to avoid 'the sort of mess you end up in if you’re constantly adapting your child’s education to a constantly changing world.' (And this was a good, rare paean for Year 12!)
- I find Daniel Markovits' critique of meritocracy so compelling (he's not the only one at it: David Goodhart and Michael Sandel's recent books make similar points). Here is he talking about competitive schooling in the age of human capital.
- It was sad to see the passing of two titans of UK education, from somewhat opposite ends of the spectrum (although, in many ways, not as much as you'd think), Sir Eric Anderson and Sir Ken Robinson.
- Oh and it seems ages ago now but this was the best piece I read on The Mutant Algorithm. But will lessons be learned for next year? Hmmm.