Friday, 10 February 2012

Education, education...what?

What a week for the educators of this country! A new Ofsted re-grading-specially designed to root out the "non-outstanding" teachers in schools..and to once again drive morale so low it hots rock bottom! I'm all for standards and people getting the push if they don't do a good know like the bankers? Ok that was a bad example...but having worked in  schools for over 20 years and having viewed many brilliant teachers, a lot of good ones and the odd rogue bad teacher, would just like to defend my colleagues. They have to be everything to everyone: teacher, educational psychologist, youth worker, child minder, safeguarding expert, social worker, family liaison officer, administrator, behaviour specialist, confidante, leader, planner, policeman, first aider, in loco parentis, examiner, marker, artist, designer, display expert, PE specialist.....and on and on! But when do you ever hear-"My God! They do a difficult job under difficult circumstances, don't they work hard?" -never! No you're more likely to hear "they only work part time" "what about the holidays" "there's no discipline in the classroom" "don't you tell my kid to...." 
To be honest when my teaching career came to an abrupt and impromptu end in March last year I was devastated. I wasn't ready to go, had a lot left to give, enjoyed my work, did a "good" job and had reached the point after 20 years where I was comfortably remunerated with a reasonable pension to look forward to (yes-originally at 60-but 67 would be fine). However, Mr Gove in his wisdom (or possibly his cups) decided to trash every educational initiative that the previous government had put in place. After all there was a recession and suddenly all the specific needs and children which these initiatives supported would obviously evaporate because they weren't important anyway. Ooops! But that wasn't the case and now they have noticed the massive deficit in provision and the pupils who are disaffected and not obviously the answer is: "Bash the teachers" using a sleeker and meaner Ofsted model! Wlll it work? No. Will everyone get GCSEs A-C grade -No! Will getting rid of NVQs and vocational training improve employment No! When will government realise that changing education constantly, unpicking what the last lot put in place and not taking into account the fact that even with the best teaching/schools everywhere SOME children will be unable to hit those magical heights of academia-for many reasons-often social and economic but sometimes due to actual can take a horse to water but you can' make him drink! But whatever government is in charge, whatever their political remit for education the whipping boy is always the poor old teacher and whatever we do it will never be good enough!
Sorry its a bit political-but its a tragedy the way education is used as a pawn to make governments look good! By the way just read Michael Rosen's blog on this-he is far more eloquent than I...

1 comment:

  1. People of all political persuasions will not face a simple truth. If a child is bullied/neglected/deprived at home for 5 years. then he starts with a massive disadvantage at school If a child lives in a chaotic, violent atmosphere loaded with anxiety, having no consistent structure, no boundaries and intermittant affection then he starts school with a massive disadvantage. Add a school day composed mostly of sitting and listening. Give him a series of tasks that he is unable to do with any understanding. What do you get: a disaffected, often disruptive child, unable to learn effectively. In my experience of 30 years of teaching 4-8 year olds they most definately do not begin as equals. When you have one teacher and 30 children there is no way this deficit can be made up. Well intentioned initiatives are introduced, run a little while then are chopped. And remember, for many, many children, their lives outside school continue to be chaotic. How can teachers make headway against this background? The solution? Make it a requirement of being an MP that their children attend state schools! And make it illegal in deprived areas for the number of children, especially at 5 to be in a class of more than 12(you know, like private school boast of).
    Well, Gill, I certainly feel better for that!!