Guiding Principles of the Grinch Manifesto

I have some concerns about the Headsroundtable.  It is, without doubt,  a group of noble people, trying to do the right thing.

There are however some flaws:

  • How did the people leading the round table achieve their position? It wasn’t by election, they are at risk accusations of self promotion.
  • It is possible to follow the Headsroundtable, but they will claim your follow as endorsement rather then interest.
  • It is not possible to be secure a nomination to the inner circle.  It appears to be a closed shop.
  • It is not possible to establish who is tweeting from the @headsroundtable twitter account.
  • One of the key driving forces has not been involved in salaried classroom practice since 1993. (that makes point 5 in the guiding principles a little awkward)

To their credit, and given the questionable democracy of the governing group, they have not been exclusive in their consultations, just membership of the elite inner circle.

The Headsroundtable have spent some time formulating a set of guiding principles.  Here they are, with my annotations in red.

1. The pace of educational change should not be affected by party politics;

The pace of educational change should have one focus – the best interests and future development of children and their futures.  Don’t say what it shouldn’t be – say what it should be.  

And.  Whilst education is funded from the public purse, the process is clear:  Education is  a key part of politics. Politicians have a mandate to meddle.  If you want the right to meddle; FORM A PARTY AND GET ELECTED.

If the argument is to insulate education from politics; Is the argument that education should be private? If so, how exactly is that different from academisation?  

2. Schools must be able to offer all their students the chance to succeed;

This is the core purpose of schools, this smacks of hand wringing and an admission that teachers have capitulated to the culture of fear and obsession with OfSTEd and league tables and believe that they cannot do their jobs effectively.  Yet the profession seems reluctant to form a single issue political party and try to get a mandate from the British people to effect real change.

3. Educational change should begin by identifying the desired outcomes for children;

This implies that there is one, absolute right way to envision educational ideology and one right way to get there, which could be argued is dictated by teachers.  Teachers are service providers.   They are civil servants ( apart from those in the dirty Private Sector).  This is in direct conflict, in my opinion with point 1.  There are at least 5, perfectly valid, conflicting ideologies of education.  The Headsroundtable are progressive educators.  How do they know they have a mandate to impose this ideology on others?  (Confusingly I am also a progressive educator).

4. Prioritising high quality teaching & learning and the curriculum will lead to world class assessment and accountability;

This is hard to argue with, but does suggest that we can, as a profession, demand trust.  We have, through our corporate behaviour over the last 30 years,  made that rather difficult.

5. The teaching profession should be centrally involved in developing future education policy.

This is, again hard to argue with.  It would of course have been easier had the profession embraced the GTC and turned it into a truly representative body representing our professional ideals.  We didn’t.  It does, however lack humility.  The teaching profession would do well to remember that it is a service provider.  The group centrally involved in this process is children and families, not teachers.  This makes Theheadsroundtable vulnerable to accusations of being a self-interest group.

So, here are the 5 Grinch Principles of Educational Change:

  1. The pace of educational change should prioritise the needs of children & their future prospects;
  2. Schools have a moral obligation to offer all their students the chance to succeed;
  3. Educational change should begin by identifying the desired outcomes for children; this should be prioritised above the interests of any other stakeholder;
  4. Prioritising high quality, research informed teaching & learning and the curriculum will lead to world-class assessment and accountability;
  5. Future education policy should be decided by the elected politicians, given mandate by the British people. The teaching profession should be consulted but only those demonstrating altruism and objectivity should be centrally involved in developing future education policy.  The interests of children and families should be at the centre of the decision-making process.

PS: Don’t tell me the people didn’t vote Tory at the last election.  The people voted to make this chaos possible.  We got what we wished for at the ballot box. (those of us who could be bothered)

3 thoughts on “Guiding Principles of the Grinch Manifesto

  1. I’m surprised to see you identify yourself as a progressive educator. Do you make a distinction between being ‘progressive’ in general outlook and being ‘A Progressive’?

  2. Excellent stuff. I agree that setting up a ‘counter group’ like this makes you seem as one dimensional in your philosophy as the government policies you are opposed to. And surely any decent professional in education knows you have to use a myriad of methods approaches and ideas to do the best for the children placed in from of you.
    However I am not sure you what you mean when you say teachers ‘corporate behaviour’ has let us down over the last 30 years. How have we done that?

  3. I share many of your concerns about the Heateachers’ Roundtable.

    And I agree with you about the set up of the GTC – as you say it was done badly. Teachers should automatically (and at no personal cost) become members of it when they’re awarded their QTS. Then they should elect an executive to oversee each sector.

    But this is where we diverge, I’m afraid. An elected GTC running the DfE would have, in my view, much more credibility than ministerial appointees (even if s/he has been elected to Paliament). To date, except for one that I can think of, they’ve had no educational experience beyond being a pupil. The head of the GTC would furthermore be subject to the scrutiny of and answerable to the cross party Educational subcommittee, in the same way that the Governor of the Bank of England is.

    Every teacher I’ve ever met has wanted to do the best they can for their students, so we can wholeheartedly agree on points 1-3.

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