No wool over these eyes

I want to teach.

I love being in school and all the challenges that brings. Whether it’s supporting children whose families are in crisis, encouraging new teachers to stick at it when the going gets tough or picking up the cloakroom coats for the 50-somthingth time that week, I love schools and I love teaching. I miss it and I want to go back.

Then I see and hear the Secretary of State for Education and what he thinks education should be like and I’m instantly disheartened.

I’m sure* he’s a nice person and his family love him. His background is not in education. I mean yes, he went to school and university and what-not, but he’s not been a teacher or a caretaker or an EYP or a book publisher. This isn’t, per se, a problem. I wouldn’t expect the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to have been a clinician or a social worker. I do, however, expect these Cabinet ministers to know a) that they’re leaders rather than experts and b) who they’re dealing with (especially when they’re married to a former teacher).

It seems to me that the current model of government is to say, “We’re doing all we can,” bandy about apparently huge sums of money and expect that to be good enough. Well, current model of government, I am not falling for it (and neither are countless colleagues), which means you’re almost certainly failing to lead.

First of all, are you really doing all you can? Are you really doing everything in your power to support our young people to become the wonderful adults we expect them to be? Are you giving them all, without exception, the chance to thrive? Or are you doing what you think’s best, regardless of what the actual experts tell you?

Secondly, those huge sums of money. £50 a head, I’ve seen quoted somewhere, which, for the average English primary school equates to less than one full-time TA per school. Yes, it might buy a lovely shiny “catch up” programme, but how will that be delivered? Who will be teaching the other children who don’t need to catch up? What are the children even catching up?!

Finally it’s not good enough. Filling the gaps in our education provision isn’t (just) about cash. The curriculum’s wrong. The focus on attainment is wrong. The way schools are constantly harangued and micro-managed is wrong. The consumer-market of post-16 and university education is wrong.

Is the education system finally ready to stand up and say no? Is this the time that the Secretary of State will learn who he’s dealing with?

I hope so and I hope I can be back in school in time for things to get better.

*I am not sure


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