Learning from school systems abroad

Charlotte Mooney's picture
I trained and worked as a teacher in state schools in Scotland. After moving to Canada, I found that the regulatory body for education would not recognise my UK teaching qualification, and that I was unable to work in Canadian state schools without re-training. I was, however, able to apply for work in independent schools.

My experience in an independent school was very mixed. On one hand, I enjoyed great freedom to create my own curriculum and order my own resources. I had a small class of hard-working pupils with supportive families. On the other hand, I faced constant pressure to provide 'value for money' for the families I worked for, who expected high test scores in return for their investment. During my time at the school, numerous students with behavioural or academic problems suddenly and unaccountably left the school. The requirements for staff training were low, and the school had a very high staff turnover. I saw untrained teachers struggle, fail, give up, and finally leave or get fired.
My experiences have confirmed for me that universal, high-quality, non-selective education is the best way to serve children and families, and is the best environment for teachers and staff to work in. I hope that the UK Coalition learns from the problems that the US, Canada, and Sweden have encountered with their private, charter and free schools.
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Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 15/12/2010 - 21:13

This is my experience too Charlotte, having sent my son to a private school and then pulling him and putting him in a state school. He's done much better in the state sector because it's really boosted his confidence and he's had great teachers. The class sizes are bigger, but the teachers are better trained and more motivated.

Charlie's picture
Fri, 17/12/2010 - 12:06

I just thought I'd mention how pointless your comment
"My experiences have confirmed for me that universal, high-quality, non-selective education is the best way to serve children and families"

This is such a basic point as to be meaningless. In an ideal world this would be the case. As the world isn't ideal, the debate is over what is the best possible way to provide education. In my opinion thats a parents choice. Your point may have been more valid if you had backed it up with something.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Fri, 17/12/2010 - 15:10

Just to defend Charlotte here, I think there's no reason why this shouldn't be an ideal; I think there are people who would disagree, particularly those who defend selective education.

Nicola Brown's picture
Sat, 18/12/2010 - 13:22

My understanding of what Charlotte said (and if she said this, I agree with her), is that universal, high-quality, non-selective education is best for children, their families and their teachers regardless of whether we live in an ideal world or not. My view is that we help to make the world we want by sticking with what is right. And in this case, I firmly believe that it is also best.

It simply won't do to say that the world isn't ideal so that makes it ok to have selective education. Those parents who claim that they 'have' to put their children's education over principle are being disingenuous. They do live by their principles, because principles are what we do rather than what we say. It is merely that their principle can be baldy stated as 'I'm alright Jack, pull up the ladder'.

Yupei Guo's picture
Sat, 18/12/2010 - 14:05

I have always longed to be in a independent school. The state schools that I went to consist of pupils with little aspirations. However, I'm not sure that every pupil can cope with the high pressure of academic work and the stress of exams, especially knowing that their parents have "invested" in their educations.

The model you have mentioned is actually quite close to the Chinese system--the one that I'm in right now. From my experience it has strengthened my understanding of knowledge, yet from the perspectives of some of my friends who are less academic, it is a living hell.

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