Statement from Tina Merron, CEO Integrated Education Fund, 4 January 2018:
We welcome the news that the OECD PISA rankings will in the future include measurements of social skills and attitudes.
The integrated education movement has long argued that educating children and young people together, in an environment of inclusion and diversity, helps to develop important skills and attitudes alongside academic study.
We were proud to publish, in 2015, a report from a Fulbright scholar on research into how successful schools educate the “whole child”.
Professor James Nehring, from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, said the best schools teach academic knowledge alongside skills which equip pupils for modern adult life. Professor Nehring worked with four schools of different sectors in Northern Ireland to explore how ethos, pastoral care and academic demands could work together to develop competencies which students will need in work and civic life, known as “21st Century learning”.
The decision by the OECD, announced at Harvard Graduate School on 12 December 2017, acknowledges the importance of holistic education and the role schools play in preparing young people in terms of “global competence”.
OECD Director of Education and Skills, Andreas Schleicher, echoes the vision of the integrated education movement when he says that schools play a crucial role in developing global competence:
“Schools can provide opportunities for young people to critically examine developments that are significant to both the world at large and to their own lives. They can teach students how to use digital information and social media platforms critically and responsibly. Schools can also encourage intercultural sensitivity and respect by encouraging students to engage in experiences that nurture an appreciation for diverse peoples, languages and cultures.”
Professor Nehring’s research in Northern Ireland suggested that a school which addresses and celebrates diversity and cultural issues has a particularly strong basis for the development of 21st-century skills. He commented
“DENI should prioritise cross-community integration as a means to fostering 21st-century skills… substantial cross-community contact, developed in meaningful ways, is a powerful lever not only for peace-building but also for high level learning…”
We would now hope to see a vision for education in Northern Ireland which prepares all young people for life in a globalised future and a diverse society. Planning for schools provision should include bringing children together within schools, as a wise use of the education budget and as a platform for developing “21st Century learning”.
You can read Professor Nehring’s report here.
You can find full details of the OECD plans for PISA research here.
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