Forget School

Why young people are succeeding on their own terms and what schools can do to avoid being left behind

By: Martin Illingworth


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Products specifications
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Size: 222 x 182mm
Pages : 200
ISBN : 9781781353134
Format: Paperback
Published: March 2020

Written by Martin Illingworth, Forget School: Why young people are succeeding on their own terms and what schools can do to avoid being left behind is a wide-reaching, engaging enquiry into the things that young people actually need from their education.

Schools are at a crossroads: either they respond to the real world of change, challenges and possibilities that face young people, or they become irrelevant.

Young people need to network effectively, manage their finances responsibly, and be digitally proficient and alert to the world around them. If schools do not adapt their provision to nurture these capabilities, then today's youth will increasingly turn to alternative sources to seek out the education they need.

Drawing on the experiences of young self-employed adults, Martin Illingworth's Forget School shares key insights into the ways in which education can be recalibrated to better support young people. In doing so he provides practical suggestions around how schooling culture, curriculum design and pedagogical approaches can be reconfigured in readiness for the emerging shifts and trends in 21st century life and employment.

Martin sheds light on how young people perceive school's current provision, and offers greater insight into what they think needs to change if education is to work for generations to come. He also explores the importance of digital proficiency in the 21st century and how young people, as digital natives, both acquire it and leverage its benefits independently of school instruction.

Essential reading for anyone working in education.

Read Martin Illingworth's blog post about Forget School.

Picture for author Martin Illingworth

Martin Illingworth

An English specialist with over twenty years' teaching experience, Martin Illingworth is a senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University with responsibility for English and drama PGCE. As an Independent Thinking Associate he has delivered keynote speeches and workshops across the UK, and has also worked internationally ' undertaking research in Cairo, Egypt, and at the University of Toronto in Canada.


  1. Martin Illingworth's Forget School joins an illustrious line of books that make the preposterous assumption that young people might have something of interest and value to say about their education. How very dare they! 

    Bang up to the minute and full of exactly the right kinds of thought-provoking insights, this book should enrage all the right people.
  2. Martin Illingworth's Forget School is an outstanding contribution to the agenda of improving the menu offered within schools and colleges to better meet their students' needs in the 21st century.

    Within his introductory remarks, Martin sets the scene for a dialogue based on his interviews and discussions with a range of young interviewees. In doing so he enables readers to gain valuable insights into the lives of these young people, who are so driven and motivated to make a life that suits and sustains them.

    A range of key issues are addressed, including the need to place greater value on the capacity of learners to better make use of information, as opposed to merely retaining knowledge. It is evident that the voices in the book are openly frustrated that the curriculum offered and the use of technology for learning are not relevant to or meeting their needs.

    A thought-provoking text which examines key issues for educators to consider as they work to help schools avoid being left behind.
  3. In Forget School, Martin Illingworth offers an accurate snapshot of a peculiar and trying phase in human history. By rounding up and extrapolating from the survival techniques of some of those who have managed to hack a living from the carcass of the status quo, Martin provides a timely insight into the novel work practices that may soon constitute the new normal. 
  4. Forget School has the daring and the danger of a protest poster in a totalitarian state - it makes you feel as if you are reading about an educational revolution. Illingworth's voice is at once prophetic and provocative; the voices of his young interviewees authentic and persuasive.

    This book should be required reading for all of us who claim an interest in the education of young people in the 21st century.
  5. Forget School raises questions that need to be asked about education and schooling before we lose sight of the wonders of learning and the joys of the teaching profession. It reminds us of the privileged position all teachers are in when faced with youngsters desperate to learn and to grow. 

    Our curriculum offer should teach children to think, form opinions, evaluate, criticise and explore and experiment. Teachers, parents and students ultimately want the same thing: to be happy, confident and successful. In this book Martin Illingworth shines a light on what that could and should be like. 

    Martin offers a reminder to the profession that we need to be brave and bold, real and authentic and connected to the young people and the world they inhabit. As teachers we wear the badge of -˜expert', and Martin prompts us to reconsider what our perception of that role is and should be. 

    Reading Forget School reminds me not only why I became a teacher but why I have continued to love the profession. And -˜education' is most definitely only the starting point.
  6. This book is revelatory, inspiring and confirmatory. The voices of young adults reverberate throughout with revelations and sharp insights on their struggles to adapt to the complexities and challenges of a world beyond school that, after years of formal education, they left with a -˜currency' they couldn't cash and a lack of -˜real world' skills. 

    Real inspiration in this book comes firstly from the voices of those young people that continue to thrive against the odds and, secondly, from the vision portrayed by Martin Illingworth of an alternative, vibrant, modern educational provision that embraces the modern world, rather that stubbornly ignores it.  

    Forget School also confirms, with real lucidity, what many within the education world think, and what their instincts as professionals have told them for years - namely that the education system is not fit for purpose and is genuinely damaging to the development of our young people.
  7. This book is a timely reminder to us not that we should forget school but that we should remember to ask ourselves what it is that young people most need to learn today and where best they can do this, both in school and beyond.

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