In over thirty years in education, 26 of which were as a headteacher, I was required to implement many Government initiatives. There was the National Curriculum, teacher appraisal, Governor reform, National and local league table for schools, financial management, and inspection.
Since retirement I see academies and “free” schools have been born with variable degrees of success I am led to understand. I get the feeling that these upheavals merely give the impression that progress and improvements are made.
However, nothing fundamental has changed for school children. The curriculum is still almost entirely academic thus disenfranchising many of them. Therefore children from disadvantaged family backgrounds are additionally disadvantaged by education.
HMCI reports continually point to the lack of progress made by very significant numbers of children. This is largely because what schools have to offer is not appropriate for them.
Although I no longer have influence I feel frustrated that generations of teachers feel as I do, but their voices are never heard. Until we have major reforms in thinking and practice we will never be able to provide all children with the opportunities to which they should be entitled.
The pleasures of being old- a good rant occasionally does you good- even if nobody is listening or taking any notice!!
Well maybe I am not alone, comedian Russell Kane has recently been on Good Morning Britain, he made a lot of sense. Here’s what he said, I’m paraphrasing… watch it here on youtube.
Governments seem to think that ‘the same education works for all’- I did sociology A’Level because’ the accident of my birth dictated where I was socially’.
Middle-class people say apprenticeships are very good for Terry, Dave and Lisa- go into beauty, carpentry- it’s very wholesome. Middle-class people who want their kids to go to University trying to say the working class should not go and should be happy doing carpentry etc For working-class/council house- going to University is like a pass into the middle class.
He said: “What annoys me when you hear this debate, there’s this massive debt and the first thing someone says is ‘yes but it’s a loan, you don’t pay it back until you’re earning a certain amount’.
“You have to put yourself in the position and the shoes of someone like me who’s grown up to be terrified of any debt, regardless of how it’s repaid.
Going isn’t easy as there is an inbuilt cultural fear of debt in the working class and this is leading to the widening of the social mobility gap.
We need to be careful with the language we use- not boxing people into types. Trades/ apprenticeships are fantastic but let’s get leaders of carpentry etc encouraging people into the professions.
‘We need to remember that people learn in different ways. There are people who like hiding away for six months and then bursting out to show off in an exam like me but there are gentler souls who are better being assessed over time, as they go. The answer a combination of the two I wish Britain overall would learn from that solution.’
He went on to say that education needs to be rethought from the primary school level and that the government needs to recognise an “attainment drop during the holidays” in which students from more privileged backgrounds benefit from private tuition and cultural excursions and others do not.
“It’s not fair to assess people at 18 who have got different resources,” he said.