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Andrew Hammond


The values, beliefs and customs that make up an organisation’s culture are usually established in response to perceived problems that need addressing. Assumptions are made about how those problems can be solved. Solutions are found, and these form the conditions in which rituals and routines take seed, which in turn shape the way things are done.The pervading culture in our schools today is built on shared assumptions about how to solve societal and economic problems that existed in the nineteenth century. When the Elementary Education Act 1870 was drafted, Britain feared losing its standing in world manufacturing and trade. It was assumed by those holding the levers of power that, in order to remain in pole position in the global race, a more educated workforce was needed: workers who could read, write and count more efficiently would help to ensure the country continued to be a global player in industry and commerce. These academic skills would bring greater prosperity for all. This solution to the prospect of economic decline led to the following assumptions, the legacy of which still forms the architecture of most school cultures even today:The most effective way to bring about success for a society and its economy is to develop the academic intelligence of its younger generation.The most accurate measure of academic intelligence, and therefore a predictor of future success, both for the individual and for the economy, is academic qualification.The best way to incentivise children to achieve academic qualification is through a system of external rewards if they work hard and sanctions if they don’t.

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