Dear Sir, 18 July 2008
Education Education Education got an injection of cash cash cash under New Labour, but where has the all the cash cash cash gone?
A lot of it has been spent on transient overseas teachers who provide emergency cover to replace the home grown qualified career teachers departing from the profession in droves. More cash has been spent on top heavy managers, head teachers and principals and their ambitious deputies. Much is spent on an army of unqualified teacher assistants, usually mums who are not necessarily motivated by raising educational standards.
The mums are there to make sure that their children are having fun fun fun and there is nothing wrong with fun, because fun can inspire creativity.
But is the concept of “fun” devalued when literacy classes are reduced to colouring-in exercises?
Colouring-in might be “fun” but it is hardly a creative exercise, even in an art class. Colouring-in is adopted for behaviour management. If the child is colouring-in with a pencil, the child is not using that pencil as a missile to put the teacher’s eye out.
And kids have learnt that school should provide “fun,” and they can in fact demand “fun,” and complain if a teacher does not provide enough “fun”.
Head teachers and school managers have escaped the classroom, and some Head Teachers would not be seen dead in a classroom, particularly if that class is oversubscribed with challenging pupils with special needs. Even “special needs” teachers avoid such classes, and prefer to work one-on-one. And this is where yet more of the new cash has been allocated, creating a gold rush of “special needs” candidates for special attention, and special excuses for bad behaviour. The very word “special” is no longer special.
British kids are the second worst behaved in the world, second to the United States. This is why the overseas teachers don't stay. Pupil behaviour and management neglect of pupil behaviour is what is driving teachers out of the profession.
See this if you will.
More cash is going to Head Teachers who are demanding higher salaries, but the required skills for a Head Teacher, is now less to do with education, and more to do with employment law, and customer services.
A good grounding in employment law will be useful because he or she will be required to defend the school against a succession of teacher grievances, since more than 50% of teachers complain of bullying by Head Teachers.
The different discipline of Customer Services is also a required skill, since he or she will need to meet with a succession of complaining parents, some of whom may not be entirely literate, but may be expertly skilled in demanding the very best “special” attention for their children. The Head Teacher will be inclined to smile like a Customer Services Manager, to placate and pretend that all is well. The Head Teacher will not be in a position to know that all is well or otherwise, since he or she would not have entered the classroom that he has been obliged to give assurances about.
If you find all this depressing and cynical, you might care to view this inspirational, highly entertaining and somewhat sentimental view of education, which made me wonder if Sir Ken is on the same planet. In fact the answer is No, because as you will see, he moved to Los Angeles, where he became sponsored by BMW, and BMW drivers are always well-behaved in Tinsel Town dreams.