Having a few extra hours to spare over the holiday period, I made the mistake of browsing a few articles about education on the internet (this is how teachers get their pleasure).
Well it didn’t exactly fill me full of the joys of the season of goodwill.
One piece that caught my eye was this – on the BBC news website, but well covered in lots of other places: Ofsted head calls for local school troubleshooters
where we learn that incoming Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said spotting failing schools should not be down to him alone, and that local troubleshooters should be appointed to identify failing schools and sack incompetent heads.
So straight off the mark we know where Ofsted’s coming from – they’re going to “Crack down” and “Get tough” on all those terrible schools out there.
Which means that all those incompetent teachers out there will read this and quiver afraid that they’ll be caught out in their wicked ways. Doesn’t it ?
The rest of the article gives us some information regarding a problem which educators all knew would happen if large numbers of schools opted out of local authority control – there needs to be someone to do the job that LAs used to do.
If instead of having schools organised under local government, they are all in theory independent (but in practice answerable to central government), then you’re going to need a new office of the government to keep tabs on them. So Ofsted are wanting clusters of local schools, and local ‘commissioners’ to fulfil this role.
Whether you have Local Authorities or not, there are things that they do that are important – which will still need to be done by someone. These are the vital tasks that the Government refers to as ‘needless bureaucracy and red-tape’.
What I really don’t understand is this : If the government want to abolish LA’s, if they want to effectively privatise public education provision – which is what this ultimately means. Why don’t they say so ? Why don’t they have the honesty to do this through official policy, rather than by stealth.
There are many arguments in favour of such an approach.
I don’t actually agree with any of them, but they can be persuasive. Surely the Tories have the confidence to let their voters know what they stand for and let them show their undoubted appreciation.
Instead we get obfuscation, confusion, hidden agenda, and most of all – demonisation of teachers ...
On Christmas day I was treated to this beauty on the Daily Mail website: Cameron's crackdown on bad teachers branded a failure as figures reveal just four a week are being sacked
Not for one second does it occur to the Mail that 4 teachers a week being “sacked” is an outrageously large number of teachers. Not once do they stop to think that perhaps there aren’t actually thousands upon thousands of terrible teachers just waiting to be caught by the latest crackdown. No possibility enters their minds, that actually most teachers do a pretty good job, and might well do a far better one were they not continually belittled by the press, the Government, and Ofsted.
There have been plenty of recent examples of this, and I haven’t forgotten Oliver Letwin’s determination, reported in the Guardian in July
to instil discipline and fear in public sector workers.
What frightens teachers is the most – what they really fear – is not the cracking whip of officialdom, but the realisation that the Government and its educational agencies, appear to have little knowledge of educational theory.
If one learns anything from being a teacher, it’s that threats and sanctions rarely produce lasting results. It’s far more effective to work on people’s strengths, to use praise to promote good practice and to offer trust instead of fear.
If the Government don’t understand that, then it’s only a matter of time before the animals turn around and bite them.