Owl reading a book
The Learning Skills Foundation®
Making Learning Connections

Identifying and sharing new developments in learning,
promoting their applications by connecting ideas with practice of all kinds


in association with

The Independent Newspapaer

"How to Educate?"

Bevan Hall, Local Government House, Smith Square, Westminster, London SW1P 3HZ

Doors: 6.00pm Lectures Start: 7.00pm

Chairman of the Lecture Series: Paul Brett


As an independent organisation The Learning Skills Foundation is ideally placed to encourage provocative and controversial lectures that will result in putting the debate about the fundamental nature of Education to the forefront of the news.

Following the successful ground-breaking series of lectures in 2008 on the theme of “Why Educate?” The Learning Skills Foundation is now holding a fresh series of lectures which picks up and explores further some of the themes debated in “Why Educate?” The new lectures are based on the question “How to Educate?”

Since the introduction of the National Curriculum, those involved in Education in whatever capacity have been bombarded with prescriptive initiatives on how to do the job of educating young people more effectively - many of these initiatives have been short-lived and regrettably have caused more heat than light. This series of lectures seeks to explore a number of intrinsic arguments and the issues surrounding them.


September 10th:

The National Strategies: Government Sponsored Learning Difficulties and Academic Failure

Speaker: Dr Jonathan Solity

It will be argued that the single cause of children’s literacy and general
learning difficulties are the national strategies that the Labour government introduced in the late 1990s.

The billions of pounds that have been poured into the literacy and numeracy strategies, and the various secondary school initiatives (for example the National Challenge) to raise the proportion of pupils getting 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C, have done no more than discriminate against and decrease the learning opportunities of children from low income families. The cost of failure is enormous in terms of its impact on children’s perceptions and expectations. The financial consequences failure are equally significant where it has recently been estimated that the annual cost of Reading Recovery (a programme that targets failing readers in Years 1 & 2) is approximately £327m per year. So not only does the government invest heavily in programmes that facilitate failure, it then has to make further investment in expensive 1-1 teaching programmes in an attempt to ameliorate the very problems it has caused.

It will be suggested that the government could have prevented this scenario had just a fraction of the past financial expenditure been devoted to researching the effectiveness of its programmes and initiatives before launching them nationally. When our children are ill we would not dream of treating them with any drugs that had not been rigorously tested beforehand. However, within the field of education we think nothing of teaching children through methods that have never undergone comparable rigorous trials.

This talk will argue that the failure of government merely reflects a failure of the educational community as a whole to either conduct research into the most effective ways of raising standards or demand that the programmes that are imposed are supported by appropriate evidence on their impact. The talk will then describe an alternative model of developing policy and practice that is derived from instructional psychology.

It will be claimed that any attempt to raise standards needs to be underpinned by theory and research. A framework for raising standards within both the primary and secondary sectors will be presented, together with the outcomes of research conducted over the last 15 years that has consistently demonstrated that teachers would have experienced greater success if they had implemented policies and programmes that were the opposite of those recommended by the government.

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September 17th:

“Rethink the Aim of Education: the Need for a Broader Vision of Learning”

Speaker: Professor Richard Pring

This lecture arises from the five year Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training, Education for All: the Future of Education and Training for 14-19 Year Olds (Routledge, June 2009). This is the most comprehensive review of this phase of education since the Crowther Report in 1959.

The Newsom Report’s (1963) ‘half our future’ is still with us, and there remains constant criticism of the quality of learning from universities and employers. This lecture, drawing on the evidence of the Review, argues for a deeper understanding of the aims of education – of the knowledge, understanding, practical capabilities, and qualities which should be nurtured in all young people, irrespective of background. That in turn requires a broader vision of what it means to learn and a re-appraisal of the role of teachers in the implementation of that vision.

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September 22nd:

Technology - Do our schools understand the “Facebook” generation?”

Speaker: Professor David Hargreaves

In the previous series of lectures, David Hargreaves argued that schools were failing to relate to the latest generation of schoolchildren because there is an unbridgeable divide between teachers and pupils. This divide is caused by the use of, approach to and application of technology.

Technology has the potential to reform the way schools operate and to increase their ability to address the individual learning needs of pupils more effectively than ever before. However, there is a feeling that the diverging approaches of teachers and pupils and the need for more investment in both the training of teachers and in the use of technology, may mean that we are missing some of the opportunities offered by technology.

Has new and emerging technology got the potential to improve the learning opportunities of pupils radically? If it has what do we need to do to embed technology and its use within our schools?

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