What are schools really for?

In a previous post I quoted the research that shows that schools contribute around 20% to the achievement of any particular student. The other 80% comes from a student’s family and community.

This opens up a question then – what are schools really for?

Should we

see them as ‘education-only’, with the intention to do that 20% really brilliantly?

Or should we

see schools as a vehicle to break into that 80% – to break into families and communities, making school’s not just about education, but about social services, family support, better parenting, medical aid and so on…

For those of us who would like to see schools treated as the former, it is depressing when government and media make decrees as if schools are the panacea for all society’s problems.

Policies such as judging schools with league tables, or judging SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural education) in Ofsted, are both methods to try to force schools to break into that magic 80% of achievement that is actually held within the student’s community. Similarly fads such as SEAL, P4C, VAK learning styles and the like, whilst they can have their own educational merit, can also be used to force teachers into educating into that same 80%, when perhaps their efforts would be better served focussing on the 20%.

Myself, I’d like to be able to that 20% really, really well, without working in the fear that I am actually being judged on the entire 100% of a student’s life chances.