Why are outstanding "specialist" teachers losing their jobs and untrained ones being promoted?

Francis Gilbert's picture
It's becoming increasingly clear that the cuts that are going on in schools and in universities are actually an assault on good teaching.

Let's itemise this attack on good teaching:

  • There are the cuts to the Specialist Schools Funding. At the moment, many schools are bolstered by high quality teaching in certain specialist areas. In particular, the Specialist Sports' Colleges have spread good teaching practice throughout our schools, especially in primary schools in many sporting areas. Many thousands of pupils have benefitted from expert teaching in all sporting areas, including football, tennis, swimming, cricket, as well as learning more specialised sports such as fencing, sports that were once the province only of private school pupils. All this amazing work will be very shortly shut down; specialist teachers will no longer be spreading great practice throughout schools and the wider community as they have been doing for the last ten years; children of all ages will no longer be playing competitive sport at the levels they have been until now. How tragic that our poorest and neediest children will not have access to all of these amazing sporting opportunities. Furthermore, hundreds of teachers will lose their jobs. So much for the government's claim that they want to "bring back" competitive sports into schools! They've axed the existing provision!

  • Advanced Skills Teachers (AST) are being cut out of the system. ASTs were great for disseminating good teaching practice throughout schools: they were all practising teachers who would work with less experienced colleagues in improving attainment throughout a range of schools. They were relatively cost-effective because they would work with a cluster of schools on the whole. This programme has been removed and redundancies have been made.

  • Individual one-to-one tuition for maths and English is being scaled back drastically; some would argue, with good reason, that it's been abolished completely. Children who are falling behind in these vital areas will no longer get individual help. Headteachers will apparently be given the money, but I've seen in my son's primary school the programme has appeared to have petered out. The money has gone into a central pot which is dwindling in other areas and been used to plug other holes no doubt. So much for the government's promise to improve teaching in the 3Rs!

  • All teacher training in universities is being more or less terminated. This was a cost-effective way of delivering high quality teacher training. I have noticed in recent years that the calibre of teachers has significantly improved because universities have really got their act together on delivering great value-for-money training. Putting all teacher-training in schools won't work and won't be cost-effective: a school cannot, by definition, offer the range of experts in one place that a university can. I have been doing a PhD in Education and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths; I have definitely improved a great deal as a teacher in the classroom since studying at Goldsmiths. Tragically, the whole education department there looks like it might shut down unless some drastic action is taken. The government clearly is not serious about giving good training to teachers.

  • Teachers' TV will disappear next year. This was a very cost-effective way of delivering training to all the nation's teachers. I notice that Gove in an interview in the TES today says that he wants to have teachers watch great lessons over the internet. What does he think Teachers' TV have been doing for the past few years? This was a very cheap way of delivering great training to all the teachers in the country in a highly approachable, watchable fashion. Getting rid of it will definitely impact upon standards in the classroom because teachers won't have access to the latest developments that are happening in research, in pedagogy, in lesson and curriculum planning.

This is a very serious assault on standards of teaching in our schools. If Gove wants to support good teaching, why, then, is he cutting so many programmes that promote it?
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