LSN Midsummer Quiz - an extra question: who blamed the media for putting off potential recruits?

Janet Downs's picture
Who has said, ‘I am going to lay a challenge at the door of the media, because one of the things Vic [head of Passmores Academy) said loud and clear is the way that schooling and education is reported in this country, the language used often puts people off from wanting to go into it [teaching].’

The answer is Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. She made this remark during a visit to Passmores Academy, featured in Educating Essex, after taking up an offer of a latte from Vic Goddard, head of Passmores. He gave the invitation in a moving open letter to Morgan which described the pressures heads are under (I confess, Vic, your letter made me cry).

I share the views of Disappointed Idealist - the media can’t be blamed for the way education is reported (after all, much of the stuff is regurgitated press releases from the Department for Education). Disappointed Idealist says Morgan’s remarks ‘can be used to redefine the terms “brass neck”, “chutzpah” and “total and complete absence of self-awareness” for future generations, coming, as it does, from the woman who wasted no time after the election to deliver a bill designed to address “failing” and “coasting” schools, and a much-publicised commitment to sack “failing headteachers”. And of course, we don’t need to go back into “blobby”, “enemies of promise” Gove.’

Morgan has a huge problem in teacher recruitment and retention. But the media can’t be blamed for the sneering at ‘council-run’ schools (and by implication the teachers in them) which comes from Department for Education propaganda. The media can’t be blamed when teachers who oppose Government ideas, no matter how well-argued and evidence-based their criticisms are, are dismissed as the Blob or enemies of promise. The media can’t be blamed for heaping continuous changes on the teaching system in England – curriculum, exams, inspections, benchmarks, the hokey-cokey of what’s included in league tables, academy conversion (by force, if necessary) – which is contributing heavily to the teacher exodus. The media can’t be blamed for making teaching seem a perilous occupation which is only as safe as the next round of results or Ofsted inspection.

No, Secretary of State, it’s not the media which is making teaching an unattractive career – it’s you, your ministers and your predecessor. Don’t blame the messenger.
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A Cooper's picture
Fri, 12/06/2015 - 23:05

You only need to read posts on the TES Workplace and Conditions forum to understand what is happening to this great profession at the moment. It too makes for very sad reading.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 20/06/2015 - 09:57

According to Wilshaw, the BBC's 'Grange Hill' and 'Waterloo Road' are to blame for putting people off teaching. But they're soaps - they aren't real.

The 'Educating...' series, on the other hand, showed teaching in a sympathetic light. The programmes are reputed to have encouraged people to enter teaching. They were true.

A Cooper's picture
Sat, 20/06/2015 - 15:46

I thought the Tough Young Teachers fly-on-the wall series portrayed what it is like to be a new teacher via the Teach First initiative, fairly positively. Some of the participants have now taken on leadership roles in their schools. In fact, if memory serves me well Mr Gove held them up a guiding light for others thinking of joining the profession. Mr Wilshaw needs to look inwardly to find the real reason why our profession is on its knees.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 20/06/2015 - 16:17

Wilshaw said he was appalled at the lack of support for the Tough Young Teachers. That's surely a criticism of both the schools and Teach First which gives trainees just six weeks training before launching them into schools. This baptism of fire is likely to deter any teacher not 'tough'.

A Cooper's picture
Sat, 20/06/2015 - 20:12

Janet, to be honest I hope it does make would-be teachers really consider the reality of teaching before they sign up. It might improve the retention rates. In my opinion ITT needs to be undertaken over a much longer period of time (I don't even think a one year PGCE/school's direct route is long enough) so that trainees have time to become rounded, reflective practitioners.

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