How dare you? – To be honest you lot are sitting ducks!

I just read a really interesting post on Kevin Mc laughlin’s blog, you need to read that first to get the context, below is my response, putting the other point of view.  I am proud to be a teacher and a member of the profession.  My most fervent wish is that we were a perfect profession.  We are not, we make it possible for this response to Kevin’s blog to made:

Ahem…..

The state education system exists to serve the needs of the state. It is paid for by taxation, distributed by the elected politicians of the day according to the agenda agreed by the people at the last election. Who are you to sit in judgement as to the validity of that agenda? The system is there to create the workforce of the future, that view stretches back to Elizabethan times. You are an expert in your comfort zone, a prodigy at self indulgence. Where is your altruism, your notion of public service?

You have worked in a system that has haemorrhaged money for the past 12 years. Billions of pounds have been invested for minimal return, your therapeutic, holistic view of education has delivered a minimal rise in standards and arguably a reduction in young peoples’ desire to work hard and contribute….you have been complicit in making children believe the world exists to gratify them.

Some of your kind are outstanding people, leaders and pied pipers. Too many of your kind are poor leaders, teachers who view the Christmas play as important enough to abandon learning from the start of December. Your kind have been complicit in turning SATs from a random week of tests into the focus of a year. This comes from your cowardice, you lacked the courage not to teach to the test.

You are a public SERVANT.

Your kind walked out of school to protest at being asked to work a couple of years longer and make a bigger personal contribution to your pension, yet claim that every teacher is working tirelessly to ensure every child succeeds. You are a member of a profession sufficiently well paid to be able to afford to strike for one day and not really feel the lost earnings. You are a member of a profession who will never embark on a sustained course of painful industrial action, unlike the miners in the 8Os. You are a member of a ‘profession’ where far too many have grown wishbones instead of backbones. Your kind has resisted and failed to take pride in your own professional body. Too many of your kind view parents as the enemy; treat other professionals with disdain; attend trade shows with the explicit intention of pilfering as much ‘free’ merchandise as possible; continue to be caught being unprofessional in public. Too many of your kind lack the ability to realise why you are ridiculed in public. You are deluded if you consider yourselves role models.

Your enhanced sense of moral outrage has made you the arbiters of a twisted liberal morality in schools, to think its ok to criticise a 5 year old boy, who has the wisdom to see through the crocodile tears of his peers, for lacking empathy. You have turned the emancipation of women into the social emasculation of men.

You act without thought or wisdom, jump on bandwagons (brain gym), adopt theories(visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) without bothering to read them. You implement change and never evaluate the impact (wake and shake – when it’s five minutes of half hearted jiggling to a pop song is it really having an impact). Your kind bought cameras because they were blue, chose floor robots tarted up as bees because you lack the skills to engage children with lesscute but more appropriate technology. You buy cute and flimsy over functional and robust – you lack any real understanding of best value. Your kind are poor custodians of the taxpayers investment. You sank millions into Interactive Whiteboards and refuse to use them as anything other than overhead projectors. The future prosperity of our country is in your hands, that burden does not weigh heavily enough with you.

When was the last time you left for work wondering if your wages would be paid or the gates of your workplace would actually be open? You have a comfortable existence, with your 12 weeks paid leave and your still big fat pension.

How dare you even begin to think the way you are perceived is down to the press? You did all this to yourselves.

The truth for the profession :

  • You feel overworked because you are not clinical enough in the way you prioritise.
  • Most of the children who behave badly for you, do so because you are tedious and not interesting.
  • You dug your own pit over SATs and league tables because you are cowards.
  • You are not taken seriously as a profession because you are not actually professional in your outlook.
  • You have been heavily invested in, you have not delivered on that investment, in any other sphere you would not have jobs, you would be sacked.
  • You do not have sufficient command of the written word and Mathematics.
  • You are unmanageable – working with you is like herding cats.
  • You are fragile, peevish primadonnas who bully colleagues showing spark or talent, who turn visciously and emotionally on anyone who would criticise you.
  • You are ill-informed and complacent, your eye is taken by fluff and window dressing whilst the fundamentals remain neglected.

I look forward to your responses……but be a grown up: Have I mentioned anything that isn’t happening somewhere?

When will we focus our efforts on rejecting the small number of our kind who make this response possible, rather than complaining at the people making the legitimate criticism our kind have made possible?

50 thoughts on “How dare you? – To be honest you lot are sitting ducks!

  1. If Nick Gibb reads this, he will almost certainly start touching himself in an inappropriate way…. once he has corrected the spelling mistakes of course…

      • Having slept and chilled a bit I can see this debate taking off a bit.

        A few thoughts Pete.

        The state education system exists to serve the needs of the state. It is paid for by taxation, distributed by the elected politicians of the day according to the agenda agreed by the people at the last election. Who are you to sit in judgement as to the validity of that agenda? The system is there to create the workforce of the future, that view stretches back to Elizabethan times.

        We don’t exist to serve the needs of the state, but of the future of our state. Government lacks vision beyond the next parliament and rejects the ideas of those who do.
        Since when did parliamentary elections spell out the reality of educational reform in the run up to voting? They keep their hands close to their chest and cultivate misinformation and quote out of context. Who apart from educationalists know about education in the depth required? The so-called publicly agreed agenda is no such thing. They don’t know what they are voting for in reality and have no idea of consequences.

        You are an expert in your comfort zone, a prodidgy at self indulgence. Where is your altruism, your notion of public service?

        We are not in comfort zones. Management teams are constantly pushing personalised agendas upon us and the agendas of government – PSHE (SMSE I think it’s called now), social work etc…
        Most teachers I know give up their time to run clubs, talk to parents and go that extra mile to enhance the children’s learning experience at the expense of their personal lives. Work/life balance is still a closed book in many schools!

        You have worked in a system that has haemorrhaged money for the past 12 years. Billions of pounds have been invested for minimal return, your therapeutic, holistic view of education has delivered a minimal rise in standards and arguably a reduction in young peoples’ desire to work hard and contribute….you have been complicit in making children believe the world exists to gratify them.

        LAs provided most of the services for schools at considerable cost. As you well know, if you tell a supplier that it’s for education, the price rises. Legally binding red tape ensures licenses to print money for H&S services, PAT testing, Asbestos checking … the list is endless. THEN consider Government initiatives pumping out vast documents to each school and teacher, and the follow up training delivered by expensive consultants. Who handles their purse strings?

        The holistic, therapeutic view was dogged by government interference and was a mongrel mix doomed to failure from the start. One or the other but not both. Don’t blame education for societies ills. Parents have final responsibility to educate their children morally. We live in a society where entitlement rules. Look at today’s ads.

        Your kind have been complicit in turning SATs from a random week of tests into the focus of a year. This comes from your cowardice, you lacked the courage not to teach to the test.

        Ho, ho, ho! Red rag to a bull? When the school is judged by the public on that random week, it has to become the focus because all the other amazing stuff never see the public light of day! Not cowards. Bad publicity can trash a schools reputation and that of its staff and community.

        Your kind walked out of school to protest at being asked to work a couple of years longer and make a bigger personal contribution to your pension,…….. Your kind walked out of school to protest at being asked to work a couple of years longer and make a bigger personal contribution to your pension,

        I did and as I work in profession with a life expectancy at 65 of only 18 months, then I did so advisedly. I don’t want to drop dead on my laptop/tablet in front of my class. Our pension funds are not that badly off. Where are the figures? The government refused to publish them. The Government know that most teachers wont walk for a week and are counting on it. Most teachers could not afford to do so either. Nor could the miners but it was do or die for them remember.

        Too many of your kind view parents as the enemy; treat other professionals with disdain; attend trade shows with the explicit intention of pilfering as much ‘free’ merchandise as possible; continue to be caught being unprofessional in public. Too many of your kind lack the ability to realise why you are ridiculed in public.

        Parents are hostile to teachers and have been for some while. False accusations, mistrust and threats are not uncommon for some teachers. Most teachers however don’t view parents as enemies. Work with them and life becomes much better. The ridiculous behaviour of those not conversant with the pitfalls of social networking and the resultant unprofessional behaviour is not a fault of educators. Many professional bodies are seriously advising their members about the dangers as some have already fallen foul.

        You are deluded if you consider yourselves role models.

        Where did it say in our contract, “you will see yourself as a role model?” Your perception not ours.

        Just a few to start with. Maybe more later when I’ve finished completing my emasculated roles at home.

  2. OMG Pete,
    Put your spoon away!
    Let sleeping dogs lie.
    Stop poking the hornets nest.
    Oh but wait. The hornets have flown the nest. Or have they?

    Do it again Pete, and very loudly, and you might start to wake us up. Perhaps we can put our house in order.
    It is because we care as Kevin does, that we are slumbering giants. When will be the time we wrench education out of the handsof the politicians and PROVE OURSELVES the professionals we are supposed to be?

    • Won’t we need to wrench education out of state funding in order to make it happen?

      If we do? How many of our noble schools created on our great ideals will actually survive the rigours of a parental market place?

      We aren’t teachers any more – we are social workers, the more we do, the less parents are able to do. We need to fix parents, not schools.

      • There is an argument for not letting children have children!
        There is an argument for withdrawing state support to persistant non-workers.
        There is an argument for a Bill of Responsibilities over a Bill of Rights.
        There is an argument to teach parents they DON’T have entitlement to everything the state and society offers and they will lose it if they take for granted.
        These arguments reveal huge moral leaps that society may need to take…one day.

        Oh I am no right-winger either and have been at the mercy of state support but worked myself and my family out of it. Bloody hard!

      • Repeat after me:

        It’s ok to be crap, so long as you are happy.

        That’s the summary of the liberal garbage we pedal in schools.

  3. Therapeutic education is only one of a whole raft of problems for the current education system. Teaching to the test, overstuffed curricula, poor resourcing, bad use of resources, perpetuation of old practices, lack of any will to progress, and most importantly, a belief that school is all about knowledge acquisition. Fortunately there are many alternatives for learning, and some of them don’t rely solely on ‘school’. How many of us actually believe that ‘school’ in its current form will still exist ten years from today?

    But, hell, I’m supposedly an anti-intellectual, so I’m bound to say something like that….

    • I think the institution of school is stupid. We are perpetuating a broken model. Education is the job of @ethinkingjnr’s community:

      School – knowledge learning skills and relationships
      Me & his Mum – knowledge, learning skills, ethics, morals, values, backbone
      His relations & neighbours- ethics, morals, values.

      Apparently I am failing as a parent cos he had 3 days out of school for a wedding, but it was ok for school to abandon lessons for the Xmas fare, disco and whip him into a frenzy about Xmas from 1st December!

  4. As ever a beautiful provocation piece which chimes with my oft used cry of “We deserve the reputation we have” when met with poor or unthinking practice or decision making.
    A couple of things which struck me though, Pete was the use of “You” all the way through.
    Do you no longer think of yourself as a teacher? Was your leaving the classroom one of the acts of cowardice you cite in your excellent post? Doesn’t the teaching profession need someone like you in it fighting the demons from within?
    Also I presume from your points that ITT sits completely absolved of any taint of blame for the ills within the profession and am struggling to see what happens to our new professionals in between leaving uni and getting into the classroom!

    • Hi Bill,

      My use of you was to ape the style of Kevin’s post, nothing more sinister.

      I am a teacher, I left the classroom because I was bullied by a lunatic, it went to constructive dismissal etc. It was so bad that I resigned my post when my wife was 3 months pregnant and I had no job to go to.

      Our new professionals have to squash themselves into a set of standards, they serve apprenticeships in some incredible schools, develop the same hopelessness as the rest of the profession, it’s part of the air teachers breathe, it taints all but the most rebellious.

      Look at blogs.plymuniprimary.com we are trying to light a fire here in Plymouth, the students need mentors for their blogs, assuming ‘you’ are all not too downtrodden to spare the time to invest in the next generation.

      • We aggregate them all on blogs.plymuniprimary.com

        They are in public learning live…comment away…. No fit and proper test, they need to learn to l Iive by the sword and die by the sword.

  5. A very interesting reply to my post as no matter what viewpoint anyone has on education there will always be someone around to counter it. You have certainly covered many of the counter arguments but not offered any solutions. The debate has to continue 🙂

    • My solution is simple. As a profession we need to ‘man up’ stop dancing around the difficult conversations, tell each other the truth, stop worrying about upsetting people, cos there is no good way to tell a colleague they are just not god enough.

      • There are teachers who are not great at teaching, even after coaching and extra training. They must be excluded from the profession with the same conviction as what occurred on my degree course when our first year intake of 75 was reduced to 50 by year 2. But teaching is a profession which is more than just a set of data at the end of an academic year. That I will not be budged on unless someone can make me see some sense to data nonsense. Basing an entire teaching career on end of year results is something that should never have been allowed to occur in education. Children do not learn at the same ‘government agreed 2 mini level’s a year’ rate. It’s nonsense.

      • Data is curious…. It is reasonable to assume good progress over the 7 years at primary, no?

        2 sub levels per year as a rule of thumb? Not bad, but not as a blanket expectation, but still nothing to fear if your evidence as to why they didn’t make progress, what you did about improving those circumstances etc is robust….

        There the problem, we don’t react fast enough, aggressively enough when kids aren’t learning. We can’t flex our silos of classes by manufacture date effectively enough to impact on provision.

        So can I judge you on progress yes, on general trends over several years if kids aren’t performing under your care, then you are gone.

        On Monday, reflect on how many minutes each child spent learning something new…. It pretty soon becomes clear that whole class teaching is baby sitting done badly…..it’s about occupying not improving. But the system assumes that play is bad and prevents you flexing your time to maximise the learning of each kid.

      • No God complex, he just cares.
        The problem is that we have no firepower anymore. What can educators do? I would love top be in a profession that has the guns to fight our corner, but the press see us in the same way as the politicians.

      • Here’s the thing. We are devices of the state. In the current system we do what the politicians decide…..that’s the way it is….it’s naive to believe that education could be state funded and not state managed.

        The path to nirvana lies in the private system, but are we actually sure parents would buy what we are selling?

  6. But the problem is that the 2 mini levels a year comes in when the profession will not deal with the teachers who cannot help their children progress (in which ever way for argument’s sake) as they are not up to the job of teaching. Whilst there are concerns about the quality of teaching there will be stringent measures to prove to the watching public that there is rigour.
    In times past we had the same with funding for ITT where insititutions were punished financially for failing students.
    Reform is needed in all areas.

    • If 2 sublevels a year for an average child is required (4 points) and the children are struggling in part due to socio economic background, why are we being set 6 points a year? Are we to be judged as failing teachers? If the children make 5points progress I will have not met the set taget in our school but would have done in an average school. Am I a failure?

      • The system is failing…the families, the school – all of it.

        You haven’t go the remit to do what ever it takes to fix what needs fixing, the parents are not forced to face their responsibilities.

        The community is failing, not the school.

        Too much responsibility is given to schools, taking it away from parents…I’m not allowed to decide what’s best for my boy, I’m lumped in with every one else, and he must attend school every day or else, even if he misses out on foreign travel or has to spend time away from his dad, which might in my view be more important occasionally given the globe trotting nature of my work 😉

      • If you want to take your children away for a while, write an agenda for the governors citing all the NC objectives being hit. Show how he will be handling foreign currency, map reading, learning world history, communicating with other adults potentially in other languages, looking at diffrent cultures and religions, and get him to keep a diary for the few days. Times, dates etc. If you fly get him to find out about how they work. Why do planes stay in the air? As a governor if I saw that from a parent, I would say go for it. Ask head first then move to chair of govs if refusal comes.
        Play them at their own game. If the education is better, prove it and fight it.

      • I know that – but it’s counter intuitive – he’s my kid….if I held the school to account in the same way for the days he is with them, I’d be listed as a problem parent.

  7. ‘Whole class teaching is baby sitting done badly’ that can be true especially if it results in bored learners. Your last remarks ring true for me as I too believe that play is vitally important as is flexibility for learning.

    • I am interested in how we move from what we believe to what we know….play is important…based on what evidence?

      How do we build our case? Teachers stick to beliefs, in the absence of evidence and we lack knowledge of the body of evidence toargue our case….

      Are we well enough informed?

  8. Let’s get to the main points.

    I have every right to question the validity of the state’s education agenda otherwise we would be living under dictatorship.

    Education does not encourage children to believe that the world is there only to gratify them.

    Any school performance/play is important as the learners are free to express, to create, to develop, to discuss, to learn and to perform. A bit like sitting in a class really.

    That servant word in public servant is so demeaning. I’m no one’s servant and never will be. The word must go.

    If a worker is not happy with the conditions at work they have the right to question those conditions, if that means striking then so be it.

    Ah, the ‘you get paid to do nothing (holidays)’ rant. We are paid a yearly salary and schools have holidays. Our pay is spread throughout the year taking into account the holidays. If we didn’t get paid during holiday times we would then get that pay during term time.

    Certain media groups will only focus on ‘bad’ news which unfortunately misrepresents teaching.

    That will do for now. I’m sure bones will be picked, in fact I hope they are.

    • I have every right to question the validity of the state’s education agenda otherwise we would be living under dictatorship. ( fair point, but you are also undermining your employer – is that acceptable?)

      Education does not encourage children to believe that the world is there only to gratify them. ( read “the dangerous rise of therapeutic education” it argues that the well being agenda does cause children to believe that trying hard is enough, that achievement isn’t the core aim, that so long as you feel happy that’s enough, crap and happy is ok)

      Any school performance/play is important as the learners are free to express, to create, to develop, to discuss, to learn and to perform. A bit like sitting in a class really.(have you got figures to demonstrate the improvement made in this and that it outweighs a standard week? Do you have the approval of parents to do this? Was it discussed as a learning strategy?)

      That servant word in public servant is so demeaning. I’m no one’s servant and never will be. The word must go.( that’s the job you signed up for. aren’t you proud to serve your country? Does it demean soldiers to serve their country?)

      If a worker is not happy with the conditions at work they have the right to question those conditions, if that means striking then so be it. ( agreed, but now one day has been taken, are you all prepared to go out for a week If the government doesn’t change course? The line has been crossed, the strike must continue until victory, the profession doesn’t have the stomach for that)

      Ah, the ‘you get paid to do nothing (holidays)’ rant. We are paid a yearly salary and schools have holidays. Our pay is spread throughout the year taking into account the holidays. If we didn’t get paid during holiday times we would then get that pay during term time. ( I know that – you know that but the rest of the country doesn’t buy it)

      Certain media groups will only focus on ‘bad’ news which unfortunately misrepresents teaching. ( where is our approach to raise our credibility, let’s use the GTC as our advocates….no wait, we rejected them)

      That will do for now. I’m sure bones will be picked, in fact I hope they are.(glad to be discussing it)

    • “Any school performance/play is important as the learners are free to express, to create, to develop, to discuss, to learn and to perform.”

      Surely *any* school play is not necessarily providing this. Some schools do, they allow children to co-construct, be creative, and have a real involvement in the play. Some schools just tell them exactly what to do to produce something that is exactly the same as the last 10 years worth of plays and the children have no stake in, let alone anything past how to follow instructions.

      As with everything in education, it is not so much what you do as how you approach it. ‘The medium is the message’.

      • Sorry the second paragraph should have ended:

        “let alone learn anything past how to follow instructions.”

        I forgot the learning… just like many school plays.

  9. An excellent post. And yes lots of truth in what you say. I feel lucky to be a deputy head teacher (Full time in the classroom as well) I get a sense of achievement each day, the children in my school make excellent progress, standards are very high. All this done in an ethos of developing the whole child.

    I’m definitely a ‘constructivist’ in my approach, as is our school and I know other feel this is not the correct approach. It’s more important to have evidence for a particularly approach and do it very well rather than worrying about what approaches others take.

    With regret schools have a ‘gene pool’ based on beliefs and practices long outdated. Too many things that happen in school happen just because they always have. Of course this is wrong. Love the point about the Christmas play, if I had my way it wouldn’t take place, not because I’m a ‘scrooge’ but because I believe it gets in the way of learning. My role primarily is to serve children, not to serve the wishes of parents who want their children in a costume on stage.

    Your post highlights lots of the inadequacies of schools/teacher. However, I disagree that we an instrument of state, with the sole purpose of helping children get jobs later in life. Our remit is wider than this, perhaps too wide sometimes. But until all parents/carers take an active role in the lives of their children the job of the school is far more wide reaching that helping children get a job.

    I hope you’ll be heartened to hear that not all teachers waste money! Some do ruthlessly prioritise, use the IWB efficiently, research everything they, and act with wisdom and professionalism. I’d certainly consider myself one one them.

    thanks for the post and have a read of some of our posts at http://thoughtweavers.wordpress.com/ -I’m sure you’ll enjoy some of them.

    • Thanks…..

      I know that this stance isn’t representative of all…

      You are right at the moment the job of fixing many social ills is that of schools…that’s the state’s choice…..for us as educators.

      Is that what ‘school’ is for, school and education are. It the same…is there merit for building a system to support schools in doing their main job, developing skills and knowledge….and asking society to fix itself?

  10. The boundaries between society and school are becoming more blurred. I’m happy for schools to have a greater role in society as well as helping children learn skills and knowledge; I believe this is part of contemporary education.

    The problems is that some teachers simply see their role as a ‘stand and deliver’ role, they don’t want to be a ‘social commentators’ and yes they often lambast 5 years olds for not ‘getting it’. its the role of the teacher that has changed dramatically, its just that many teachers have not caught up, either because they don’t want to or don’t have the ability to.

    This week I’ll be taking part in the BETT conference in London and I’ll be discussing this very thing. Your blog has helped sharpen my thinking. Thank you!

  11. A nicely provocative response to a heartfelt post, a post which demonstrates how frustrated and isolated an educator can feel within the present education system. And yet you already know some of the areas by which your points can, and will, be challenged in return … You sit waiting for them … A modern-day Socrates demanding debate, hankering for the cut and thrust of point and counter point. Whilst not an academic, and so lacking some of the specific arguments you are waiting for (no doubt backed up with a range of published papers or reports from research, think tanks, action groups and practitioners themselves) there are a few points I would like to ask you to clarify.

    1 – You question the validity of the original author in their quest to challenge the present political masters. This is done partly by questioning the professionalism of teachers and partly by demanding that they understand their place in the world (following the instructions of those on high?) with phrases like “you are an expert in your comfort zone” and “the system is there to create the workforce of the future”.

    It can be said that there are up to 4 ways that Kevin has a right to challenge the direction of the system. As a tax-payer, as a voter, as a profession in the sector and perhaps as a parent, and this could be said to apply to almost any sector which as public funding and political input, to be honest. As a tax-payer I want to know that the money is being spent with a long-term view for the benefit of the country. as a voter I have the right to challenge the elected government, and in spite of what some would have use believe this is not just at elections but via local MP and Councillors, via parliamentary interest groups, via direct action to bring attention to issues (ranging from petitions through to demonstrations) and by expressing individual opinions. As someone in the sector I have the right to challenge for the protection of those who I serve … if I take the view (which I generally do) of being a Public Servant … in the same way a GP will challenge poor decisions via the appropriate personal and professional channels. If there was going to be a relaxation on the crackdown on tobacco advertising you could be sure GPs would cry out … is this any different? We all worry that changes to the education system could be for the worse and so they need to be challenged by someone. Whilst there is a core of people who are resistant to *any* change, most are resistant because when they have expressed concerns about the direction they have been ignored, or worse, ridiculed … but more on that later. So the right to challenge and express opinions is valid, but I will defend your right to counter those opinions too.

    2 – You point out that the politicians make the decisions based on the needs of the country. Whilst I know that this is the general aim it seems slightly devoid of the reality of politics. It is common for parties to take apart the prior work of previous governments, to try to take almost an opposite stance on some things, and to seize on small articles of faith that certain actions will change the world, the debate on phonics goes on, as it does for free schools, the dismantling of the LAs, the eradication of various QANGOs and the hidden machinations around the DfE budget. And yet you point out that we should trust the system when it is clearly contradictory. A Secretary of State who moves schools to Academies because teachers and Heads know best, then ignores successful Heads who point out that Free Schools in their areas are not needed, a department who praises successful schools outside of the LA but berates successful schools who remain, a minister who latches onto political bandwagons in the same way that previous politicians have, resulting in targeted agendas which have so many people now waiting for the *next* change … on one side we had that the investment in technology was wasted by the last government and schools, followed by we most do more with technology but with no advice (let’s hope BETT changes that) other than ‘schools know best’.

    Whilst we have politicians knocking the profession for challenging those politicians we will have issues. Politicians challenging because of failure … fine … but the narrow responses on particular areas (trust the Academy groups… They know what to do) or the broad generalisations (teachers need to get a grip of discipline as they are letting everyone down) do not help. It is almost as if some of the parental responsibility is being devolved to the school … And we all know the successful schools are ones who have a good relationship with the parents, and promote the parental involvement in education … but alongside the school … not taking it over … they trust the professionals.

    It is worth pointing out that teachers are not the only professionals working in schools … yet the present Government seem to think that is the case. Those who could better advise SLT in schools against making stupid decisions on leasing, poor choices in technology, etc … they are also public servants … but they are now seen as a commodity to be brought in when required … almost disjointed from the school planning … a very short term view.

    In short, political targets are changeable at a whim, do not always reflect long term needs for the country (no matter what party is around) and to some extent we have schools doing a bit of damage limitation, frequently based on the advice of those schools who are doing well or research / reports which the particular masters at the time might not like.

    Do I understand why people get frustrated? Too right … Do I think challenge is good? Oh yes … But I don’t think that the targets should solely be set by the Government of the day … Nor should I allow the Government of the day to manipulate statistical data without challenge in return. There are lies, statistics and political statements.

    And all of the above is full of holes, waiting to be torn a little wider, of course … but it is merely another opening into the debate.

    • Thanks for your comments – the you isnt Kevin, not specifically – it wasnt a repy at Kevin, but to the profession at large.
      I only have time to reply to one thing that leaves my head spinning:

      We have a system where we pay school leaders the equivalent of directors’ pay in a small company, we then set up a support network to provide them with help to do the things that a company director would do as a matter of course in their daily work. Isn’t this rather nonsensical?

      Kepp discussing – I’ve reached a point of hoping we can put our own house in order and then tackle the Government, we have no credibility as it stands.

      If we take the system out of direct Government control, doesnt that make it a private system? We all know that is evil 😉 ?

  12. Your basic premise that education serves the needs of the State is correct and that is the key problem. We have had schools to ‘educate’ children to be the workers and consumers of the future and allow parents to work now. We have pretended it’s about developing each child to fulfil their potential but that patently isn’t true. We still throw thousands away to face long term unemployment and currently are unable to offer the more able any future.
    So maybe it’s time to ask some serious questions.
    What is education in the 21st Century?
    What is it for?
    Who is it for?
    Do we need schools as buildings in locations?
    Do we need teachers?
    I am sure there are more question and perhaps the biggests is what kind of work do we want?

  13. Now come on .. you would expect me to respond … Come back Ivan … all is forgiven. I never did believe in institutional education … I never did believe in industrial fodder … I never did believe in assessment as the weight of the beast did not change by weighing it … I never did believe that necessarily the people we call teachers are the ones best fitted to teach our children … I never did believe that we should waste childhood in the way we do … I never did believe … I never did believe … and I don’t believe now.

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  15. It would appear to me that you are substituting one orthodoxy (liberal education) with another (accountable education). Historically, neither has produced desired results. In fact, I’d argue that they sort of happen on top of education while nothing fundamental has changed within the schools or within the society they are supposed to shape.

    Also…

    “You have been heavily invested in, you have not delivered on that investment, in any other sphere you would not have jobs, you would be sacked.”

    This is a perfect example of how the business metaphor of education can be dangerous if we don’t examine the facts behind our model of how the reality of business maps onto the reality of education. And this is an easy one. It is simply NOT true that people are routinely sacked for “not delivering on investment” made into them. In fact, in the business world, people are not sacked all that often for not being good at their jobs. This starts with CEOs and senior management and goes down to the lowest paid workers. Just look at the banking crisis. People are occasionally sacked if they consistently don’t meet very strictly defined targets but just as often the targets are reassessed. This is not a bad thing because just as often as the workers, it is the targets that are at fault. The sacking of sports team managers before they could reasonably be expected to show results is a good example. It would be hard to sack the entire profession anyway. If anything, it should be the leaders (from politicians to PGCE course directors) who should be sacked…

    But, in effect, this statement is demonstrably not true! There may be some spheres where people would be routinely sacked for this sort of thing (even if I don’t know of one) but certainly not all.

    Also…

    “Most of the children who behave badly for you, do so because you are tedious and not interesting.”

    This statement is interesting because it is firmly within the therapeutic model of education you are implicitly attacking. Why should learning be interesting if the main point of education is meeting targets? Of course, the therapeutic version of the “bad behaviour is a result of child boredom” metaphor is a bit more nuanced. Some children behave badly because they are left behind by the (government prescribed) materials that don’t take into account some common learning difficulties (such as dyslexia). This is an analogue of the “trying hard is enough” model. The responsibility is placed away from the child onto some external agent. (Not saying whether it is good or bad.)

  16. Response as requested:

    “The state education system exists to serve the needs of the state. It is paid for by taxation, distributed by the elected politicians of the day according to the agenda agreed by the people at the last election. Who are you to sit in judgement as to the validity of that agenda? The system is there to create the workforce of the future, that view stretches back to Elizabethan times.

    The national curriculum has NEVER been voted on by the country. It’s voted on by politicians who have no experience of education, advised by a fleet of people who have either never been in education or left it years ago and are out of touch.

    You are an expert in your comfort zone, a prodidgy at self indulgence. Where is your altruism, your notion of public service?

    This is a little weird – what’s altruism got to do with his blog post? ALL teachers have a strong notion of public service – it’s a profession that only survives on the strength of good will of teachers. Exceptions for sure, but not the majority. Teaching is an exploitative industry (re: staff) and you don’t need to talk about having a sense of public service.

    By the way, prodigy is not spelt prodidgy. If you’re going to slate teachers about command of written word, be a bit more careful with yours.

    You have worked in a system that has hemorrhaged money for the past 12 years. Billions of pounds have been invested for minimal return, your therapeutic, holisitc view of education has delivered a minimal rise in standards and arguably a reduction in young peoples’ desire to work hard and contribute….you have been complicit in making children believe the world exisits to gratify them.

    On the subject of spelling still, it should be ‘haemorrhaged’ here, seeing as this is a British discussion. Also, holistic is spelt wrong.

    Yeah, we know all this stuff that you’ve said. It’s not OUR view of education – you really think the current system is what a frontline teacher would design? The system IS rubbish, it has had tons of money thrown at it (particularly by the Blair government) and it’s done absolutely nothing to improve it (well, almost nothing). So the question is, “How has this money been spent?”, rather than accusing teachers of somehow hoovering it all up.

    WE have not been “complicit in making children believe the world exists to gratify them” (exists also spelt wrong in your post), that’s the media. We have to deal with the fact that children think that *every* *day* – it what causes a large amount of our behaviour management issues.

    Some of your kind are outstanding people, leaders and pied pipers. Too many of your kind are poor leaders, teachers who view the Christmas play as important enough to abandon learning from the start of December. Your kind have been complicit in turning SATs from a random week of tests into the focus of a year. This comes from your cowardice, you lacked the courage not to teach to the test.

    Difficult to argue about the Christmas play. I’m a secondary teacher so can’t comment really, but I’d agree!

    The reason SATS are turned into the focus for the year is because that’s all that schools care about. I teach in a system where league tables are king. This isn’t from cowardice, or lacking courage. This is because I don’t want to face a disciplinary and/or be sacked. That is what my job entails. I don’t like it, in fact I totally despise it, but I am most certainly NOT complicit in it!

    You are a public SERVANT.

    Well, erm, yeah. They pay my wages.

    Let’s make the rest of this shorter shall we?

    RE: GTC. They never did anything. The fact they were abolished is a good thing. If you can name me one thing visible and important that they did to improve my work conditions then please, I’m all ears. But in 7 years within education I’ve never heard of anything. Neither have any of my colleagues.

    RE: Strike and lost earnings. Several teachers at my school couldn’t afford to strike again, there were lots of people seeking hardship help at my end. Don’t know what kind of teachers you know. Headmasters? The main reason teachers won’t embark on extended action is because they care about the children they teach too much (re-reference your silliness about altruism/public service above).

    RE: Parents. If you’d ever dealt with them much, you might well regard them as the enemy. Many parents aren’t of course, but then a large number of them are ineffective at home. Apparently it’s our job to bring up their children as well as formally educate them.

    RE: unprofessionalism. A couple of idiots and you smear the entire profession? Hello? Do I really have to point out your folly?

    RE: bandwagons, theories. Quite agree. Can’t stand it myself either. This is usually people higher up who have no clue enforcing it on us down below. Thankfully Brain Gym, with all its quackery, has not been enforced in secondary schools.

    RE: IWBS. Quite agree. Total waste of money. There are far better things to spend the money on or experiment with. Having said that, some teachers DO use them a lot AS IWBs, but then they’ve got hold of the right resources. But we can’t be trusted with money according to you, so……

    RE: Wages, gates, pension, holiday. Yawn – the ‘holiday thing’? Pathetic. Re: security – there have been several redundancies at my school recently, and I might be one this year, so I can’t say I agree with this.

    RE: Overwork. I work 3 days a week. If I did everything I should do in the week, I would be working about 50 hours a week. I work flat out without breaks for 10 hours straight to get as much done as possible. I spent zero time in the staff room so I don’t waste time chatting. Needless to say, I have other things in life to get on with and don’t do 50 hours a week. That means I have to purposefully neglect to do certain things in order to stay sane/retain a work/life balance. How do you think I feel about that, having to do a less than perfect job?

    League tables and SATs are enforced and not our decision. If you had to teach the curriculum I had to, without being allowed to use anything other than unsuitable pre-printed resources, without being given time for experimentation or allowing room for the kids to really understand, then I would challenge you to make it interesting as well.

    We HAVE been heavily invested in. On average, nearly half of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years. What does that tell you?

    And, finally, if you’re going to attack command of the written word and mathematics, you could at least pay the same attention to your own writing. There were 4 spelling mistakes in this post and, going by previous comments, far more than that before.

    • Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your response, I did write a lengthy response but in light of your outburst on Twitter this evening, I have deleted it. I did some homework. one question: W.W.J.D?

      • Don’t know. Doesn’t concern me. Are you looking at an old profile? Let me know and I’ll update it.

        Twitter ‘outburst’ was in reaction to your tweets. I have explained why I reacted like that and have apologised for misunderstanding. However, you have yet to apologise for your part. No matter.

        A shame you didn’t feel able to answer – I spent ages on that post. Assumed the debate and other view would be appreciated. Again, I apologise for my foolishness. Happy lwf12!

  17. Arriving as late as I have to this post and debate, I am not certain that what I can add will help, but I’ll try. I am a researching headteacher of 30 years standing, who owns and develops his own school, now of 1000 children aged 3 to 18. We are surrounded by many of the countries best state and Independent schools, count 14 state grammar schools in our catchment area, 7 great comprehensives and lovely village primary schools in an Eastern Thames Valley/Southern Chilterns in which all should be well, and where there should be no need for Independent all ability schools such as mine. I should not even exist.

    The toxic nature of league tables, coupled with a completely unproven AND EVER CHANGING pedagogy of pupil tracking coupled with vanity headship means that we have primary schools in which introducing ‘painting’ at all is not on the School Development Plan, where the whole essential skills of close hand eye-co-ordination for handwriting or craft technology are simply not developed and where the concept of a broad and balanced curriculum has been shelved by all as ‘just too much like hard work’.

    The critical failure of education in the UK has been the failure to focus on the education of the 7 to13 year age cohort; children in their formative years before subject selection kicks in. It makes those of us in the truly Independent sector weep to see so many lives destroyed by the misplaced aims of headteachers to demonstrate that ‘muscular’ narrowing of the curriculum brings results, and improves schools.

    At the heart of that failure I place the teacher, who simply won’t live up to the alternative title of educator, because to ‘lead out’ is anathma – why the idea of learning to speak Spanish to inspire 6 year olds about other languages off the radar, where playing outside is something that can only happen when the sun and warmth come out, and where the national game, wherever your loyalty lies, is not sport but drinking coffee.

    Children’s lives are built in great schools to last; for all children and irrespective of ability their lives are always changes by Teachers who look at them and say ‘You matter’. From Socrates through to the present day, using the eyes of world class educators such as John Hurt and Graham Nuthall, and most recently the work of the Sutton Trust, we’ve been able to see what works in education now and it beggars belief that Government, National and Local, remain so unchallenged by the profession.

    “If you can’t do, you teach. If you can’t teach you teach Geography. If you can’t teach, you examine, and if you can’t examine, you become Principal examiner and rewrite the rules so that you reap the rewards of the Bonus system, namely author, lecturer, conference speaker and key stake holder in maintaining the staus quo.. And all bonus systems corrupt” Discuss.

  18. Pingback: Recruitment Crisis – The Grinch Manifesto for Teacher Recruitment | Grinch Manifesto - Feel the Love

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