Sheffield headteacher calls for lessons to be learnt after finding similar challenges between UK and Japanese schools

Paul Stockley with a headteacher from one of the schools he visited
Paul Stockley with a headteacher from one of the schools he visited

A Sheffield headteacher has found similarities between the challenges schools are facing in the UK and Asian during a visit to Japan.

Paul Stockley, headteacher at Bradway Primary, in Bradway, said schools across the world face similar challenges in education, such as internet safety, bullying, attendance and providing support for children with special needs, but felt there were positive aspects in the Japanese educational system would could be adapted in the UK.

Paul Stockley speaks with children during his visit to a Japanese school

Paul Stockley speaks with children during his visit to a Japanese school

He warned that if there are not changes around teacher and pupil wellbeing in the UK, then there is a risk of an exodus of teachers from the profession and a generation of children with a narrowed curriculum.

Mr Stockley visited Sheffield's sister city' Kawasaki, for a teaching conference and to visit educational establishments at the end of last year.

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He said: "Despite the obvious differences, what was striking during the visit were the similarities in the challenges that we all face in education, be it internet safety, bullying, attendance at school or providing support for children with special needs.

"No education system is immune for these challenges and although we often look to Asian countries for the answer to our problems, the message was clear: they have not got all the answers and there is no simple solution."

Paul Stockley, second from the right, at the conference in Japan

Paul Stockley, second from the right, at the conference in Japan

He said the rise in the number of pupils with complex special needs in schools is a challenge all over the world, but Japan is investing money to build more special schools to cope with the rise in demand.

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Testing does not occur in primary schools in Japan and there are no Ofsted inspections, yet Mr Stockley said it has one of the highest performing education systems in the world.

"In the primary school I visited I was impressed by the diverse and varied curriculum which catered for the needs of the whole child and which was not unduly focused on a few academic subjects, as it is in this country," he said.

"Teachers enjoy their jobs, despite very long hours, and the headteachers are trusted to lead with minimal interference from the government or the local education department."

Pupils at a school in Japan which Paul Stockley met during his face

Pupils at a school in Japan which Paul Stockley met during his face

Mr Stockley felt there are important lessons to be learnt for the UK education system about teacher and pupil wellbeing, which he felt was at risk of losing a high number of teachers and a generation of children who learn a narrowed curriculum.

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He said: "I think that there are important lessons to be learnt for our own education system around the theme of teacher and pupil well being since the unprecedented degree of pressure on schools is already risking an exodus of teachers from the profession and a generation of children with a narrowed curriculum, both at primary and secondary levels.

"Unremitting pressure over a long period of time does nothing to motivate and inspire human beings and it can lead to passivity and a risk - adverse culture; exactly what we don't need in our schools.

"If we are going to successfully prepare children for the future we need a system which recognises the importance of providing a diverse and stimulating curriculum and which places value on the development of vital qualities such as resilience and resourcefulness in our pupils, rather than just focusing on children's abilities to pass high stake tests."