The idea of a hit squad dispatched into so-called “failing schools” (Report, 13 October) should sound an alarm on a few counts. It signals the continuation of the use of force that engenders fear in urban schools, labelled not as challenging schools or, more pertinently, disadvantaged schools in local areas that usually rank high on the Index of Multiple Deprivation. It wages a propaganda war against teaching staff and multi-agency workers who are working extremely hard to try to combat exceptional social and educational inequalities in school communities that have suffered much from austerity policies. The charge of failure, code-named “inadequate” by Ofsted, is a political ploy to mask the effects in teachers’ classrooms of poverty and deprivation, which should be seen as mitigating circumstances when it comes to exam results, national benchmarks and floor targets.
This is a dangerous social experiment with these disadvantaged schools, overseen by the prime minister and led by authoritarian politicians like Michael Gove and now Nicky Morgan, who is seemingly content to carry on with a deliberate misrepresentation of the social realities of these frontline workers and subject them to intense policy pressures and sanctions, including job losses. More worrying, in the absence of adequate research-informed system support to meet pupils’ academic and social learning needs, is the power allocated to these politicians to shut down these schools, which are then cut adrift from the local authority and reopened as academies with corporate sponsors intent on profit-making and wealth creation. This then paves the way for global edu-businesses to come in and take over the nation’s state school system, which in turn raises serious questions about knowledge control and the control of teachers’ work, not to forget the fate of pupils from poor and deprived family and social backgrounds. The fallout from these vernacular forms of global neoliberal policies will echo down the 21st century, and as history has shown, there are dangerous precedents.Professor Lori BeckettThe Winifred Mercier professor of teacher education, Leeds Beckett University
• I write as a retired headteacher who had thought that nothing that was proposed by this government could any longer surprise me. However, your front-page news about Cameron’s National Teaching Service has left me astounded by its complete lack of understanding of the ways in which children learn or should be encouraged to learn. In particular, the idea that the new service will introduce “standard punishments for bad behaviour”. No longer any need to treat children as individuals, then? Where are these “behaviour experts” to be recruited from, and if they are so special, why are they not already teaching?
When I was training to be a teacher, and while reading education for a degree, my studies included the writings of Rousseau, Piaget, Pavlov and such more recent icons as Denis Lawton. In other words, a knowledge of child development was considered to be an essential requirement for a teacher. No longer, it would seem.
Lastly, the “regional commissioners” will bring in new policies on “classroom discipline, uniform standards and homework”. I have no problem with the first of these, except that I have always believed that if a teacher can capture the imagination of children in class, behaviour will not be a problem. Perhaps my previous eight years as a policeman helped somewhat. Again, I have never been a fan of school uniform or homework; the best education relies, as ever, on the quality of teaching in the classroom. I have no doubt that I will be considered an idealist by many of your readers.
The type of school envisaged by Cameron is taking us ever backwards to a grey, standard Dotheboys Hall.Harry GalbraithPeel, Isle of Man
• As a teacher who retired after 38 years in the classroom, I have been giving some thought to Tristram Hunt’s idea of a “teaching oath” (Martin Rowson’s cartoon, 13 October; Stuart Heritage, G2, 14 October). May I suggest the following:
I swear always to do my best to raise the standard of education for all my pupils so they can achieve their fullest potential. In doing this I shall:
a) Campaign to bring the 3.5 million children out of poverty so that they may be able to focus on learning rather than worrying about their next meal or where they are going to live.
b) Refuse to implement any government policy which has not been rigorously piloted and found to raise educational achievement by independent researchers.
c) Not spend hours going to meetings or training sessions that do nothing to improve my performance as a teacher so that I may stand a chance of being awake, alert and teaching at my most inspirational throughout the day.
d) Care about the wellbeing of all in the school community so that together we can work for the benefit of all, but particularly the children.
e) Allow myself time to think about and develop my subject knowledge and reflect on my practice as a teacher so that I may continue to improve my skills.
f) Not live in fear of Ofsted nor performance-related pay, for they are sticks and carrots I do not need to be a good teacher, for I am happiest when I know my pupils are happy and learning.
I would like to think Mr Hunt would agree with me, but somehow I doubt it!Richard StainerBradfield St George, Suffolk
• I am old enough to have taught in primary and secondary modern schools in the West Riding in the 1950s. Children often came to school undernourished, and explanations of school absence such as “He’s got no shoes this week” were not uncommon. At least in those days we had an Educational Welfare Service, and shoes and clothing could be provided. I thought all that was long gone. Now I read Louise Tickle’s article (Food, clothes, transport, beds, ovens: the aid schools are giving UK pupils, 14 October). And yet we have the scandalous waste of money that is the free school programme, some of whose bizarre results are mentioned in the same edition (Speed read, 14 October). Do we still have an independent inspectorate? What do they look at?John ThorleyMilnthorpe, Cumbria
• It is interesting to read about another “teaching guru”, Doug Lemov, tempting aspiring teachers to learn from his experiences (American who wrote the latest classroom bible, 13 October). On the same page is a half-page advertisement for people to train as maths teachers, with a “£25k tax-free” incentive.
Lemov appears to offer little to help stop the 40% of teachers who are currently leaving the profession in their first five years of teaching (costing taxpayers to train more to replace them). He does acknowledge that “teachers soldier on in anonymity, we never honour them”.
Why do so many teachers enter the profession, often with high aspirations of making a real difference, only to burn out within five years? Have public perceptions of what makes a good teacher been unrealistically painted by politicians, Ofsted, and the media?
Parents are told good teachers mark books regularly (weekly), teach inspirational lessons, set homework, analyse pupil data to inform teaching and keep their knowledge up to date. A secondary school history teacher might thus expect to spend over 20 hours marking books and giving feedback, 10 hours preparing lessons (including use of data), on top of a 40-hour week in school. This does not include meetings or parent consultations. A conservative estimate of doing a good job means spending 70 hours per week.
It’s a wonder it takes young teachers five years to realise there is more to life than appeasing Ofsted.Jenny Page (retired maths teacher) Newton Poppleford, Devon
- Senseless killing of Philadelphia’s Devin Bullock won’t overshadow his inspirational life
- Browns begin life without Gordon vs. Bears
- ‘I want to play through him. I’ve got to accomplish his dreams, too’
- How Ronda Rousey and coach Edmond Tarverdyan became UFC’s perfect pair
- Fay Vincent Gets The Last Word
- ‘I was blown away’: Welcome to football’s quarterback revolution
- Naylor’s Journey: One college football player’s path from paralysis back to the sideline
- Pitchman: How Tom Emanski forever changed the sport of baseball — and then disappeared
- Pacemaker: New coach turns The Citadel (really?) into nation’s top-scoring team
- Oscar-winning director explores the ‘Fight Church’ where pastors preach and punch
- Quessenberrys brought together by cancer, football
- 5 for Friday: Dirk Hayhurst, best-selling author, former MLB pitcher
- Wayne Estes a magical presence at Utah State, 50 years after his death
- For Virgil, the million dollar quest continues
- Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, his father rose together from tragedy
- Bearcats get a chance to exhale
- Top 20 crossover fighters
- How baby poop inspired one of college basketball’s highest fliers
- Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland remembers Edinson Volquez’s emotional effort
- ‘Friday Night Tykes’ is the most depressing show on television
Teaching oaths, hit squads – and the reality of life at the chalkface have 1486 words, post on www.theguardian.com at October 14, 2014. This is cached page on Konitono.News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.