Although there does not exist one-size-fits-all solution to education, there are certain organisational principles, pedagogical approaches and values that have evidentially been shown to be superior to the strategy of prescriptive standardised testing so beloved of the so-called ‘standards movement’. Young hearts and minds must be nurtured like orchids or turnips or coca shrubs or coconuts or maize or olive trees or potatoes or rice paddies since, like plants, what nourishes one may well be anathema to another. Educational strategy and philosophy must be shaped by evidence-based research and professional educators in consultation with the local community. This work draws extensively on the ideas of Sir Ken Robinson, Daniel Coyle, Lev Vygotsky, John-Taylor Gatto evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the pedagogical approaches advocated by experienced teachers from Learning to Teach in the Secondary School. There is solid evidence which indicates that a median and modal class size of 8-16 is necessary to allow other evidence based pedagogical approaches, such as individualised feedback, to occur. Although larger lecture style classes might be chosen in particular circumstances, this would be the exception not the rule as they are now.
Philosophy, methodology, pedagogy, organisation, resources, curricula and support staff are all necessary for a functional education system but teachers are the single most important factor for a holistic, creative, effective, efficient and compassionate education system. The balance of repetition and challenge are fundamental cobblestones on the road to mastering skills and inculcating knowledge, but for this to be enacted effectively and efficiently requires teachers using an evidence based pedagogical approach in addition to having joy in their hearts and a love of both life and learning. If joy, skill, passion, creativity, dedication and vision are not defining characteristics of the teachers in a school then education is little more than glorified babysitting for potential shoplifters and/or rioters. To put education at the heart of the Sustainable system, as it must be, requires compassion, dedication, quality work-life balance and professionalism of an exemplary level from its teachers.