I owe everything to my local state school

Bill Leadbitter's picture
My secondary school, on the "notorious" Easterhouse estate in Glasgow, was the saving of me and put me on the road to a life beyond my childhood imaginings. The teachers there did not discriminate against the children because of their social class or backgrounds. As a consequence of the support and dedication of committed teachers, I became the first in my family to go to university. From there, I moved into a successful and fulfilling career in the performing arts and media, travelling the world and being paid for something I loved doing anyway. I have been a lifelong supporter and member of the Labour Party - note the name - and eventually became a Councillor in an Inner London Borough. As a consequence of my experiences in local politics, I changed careers and became a teacher, in the hope that I could help provide the same inspiration and support for young people as I had received when I was a school student. I have worked in co-educational comprehensive secondary schools for 11 years now and watched as successive Education Ministers, apart from Estelle Morris, have done all they can to denigrate and reform, beyond recognition, the comprehensive system as a means of appeasing a hostile media, neo-liberal agitators opposed to the public sector and pushy middle class interest groups. I am sick and tired of being deafened by the loud slamming of doors in the faces of young people and their families doing all they can to make the best of the hand they have been dealt, using education as their main aspirational tool. We should not just get on with our jobs while Gove and the Taxpayers Alliance, who are no allies of mine, chip away at our ideals, commitment and sense of shared community and responsibility. End of rant.
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Francis Gilbert's picture
Mon, 03/01/2011 - 10:55

It's very heartening to read this at the beginning of the new year. We need to be constantly reminded of the great work that local state schools do.

Sun, 30/01/2011 - 00:20

i went to same state school as you and found that their was no help for kids who needed help dont say we did not need it we did more than others

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 30/01/2011 - 09:48

Education has been subjected to constant change, reform and interference. Anyone with an hour or two to spare can trawl through this summary http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/trowler/polupcomp.htm of the changes imposed on schools between 1979 and 2001.

Since 2001 there have been numerous other initiatives: Academies, more targets, changes to inspection regimes, changes to curriculum and so forth. Now Mr Gove wants to impose another set of ideologically driven reforms.

The above doesn’t give the whole story. Teachers have to adapt to the impact of these innovations. Exam boards change their syllabi, their marking schemes, their rules for coursework. Teachers are in a constant state of flux. Last year’s lesson plans are consigned to the bin: no time to evaluate a strategy, just abandon it and start again. Repeat the process next year.

And this has been going on for thirty years. No wonder so many teachers burn out.

At the same time as successive governments imposed chaos on UK schools, Finland reformed its education system slowly, carefully and with consensus. No such luck here.

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