Why teaching skills without knowledge doesn’t work

Joe Kirby's blog


In this second of three blogposts this week, I want to explain why unzipping knowledge and skills is so counterproductive.

When we detach knowledge from skills, achievement suffers. In England, 17% of kids leave school at 16 functionally illiterate: unable to read a daily newspaper, according to research over sixty years by the University of Sheffield. England’s literacy ranking in the PISA international comparison has dropped from 4th to 22nd within a decade. Over 40% of pupils still fail to achieve at least 5Cs at GCSE. Not only does educational achievement suffer, but the attainment gap persists: over 60% of the poorest pupils fail to attain 5 Cs. The gap in GCSE attainment between pupils with parents on income below £16,000 and those with wealthier parents remains stubbornly high at 27%. This is a travesty and an outrage. For the one in six pupils who can’t read…

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