Another Secretary of State and another colour paper but the same problem; let’s think and talk about structures rather than teachers. The glaring omission is the Green Paper never once makes proposals about the key part of the whole system; the teachers and support staff who make our schools work, who actually make them so good.
It’s all feeling horribly familiar, come up with a snappy title that no one could disagree with (anyone remember Education Excellence Everywhere, whatever happened to that?) and then fill the document with content that is pretty irrelevant. Don’t worry if there is a disconnect between your title and reality; special needs pupils didn’t get a look in today.
The Headteachers’ Roundtable’s Alternative White Green? Or Something Paper is just about ready for release. A hasty DM exchange, on Sunday night, begged the question about whether we should ditch what we’ve prepared and respond to the new Green Paper. We decided not as we’ve tried to focus on the key issues we are facing as a profession. Rather than give a few snippets or leak a line or two I’m going to write my own Green Paper to provoke discussion.
Politicians must sit on their hands for the rest of this Parliament and not come up with any more ideas; daft or otherwise proposing structural change. We already have enough to cope with and the wheels are coming off in some places. I’m no great fan of grammar schools but (if I was appointed Secretary of State for a day or two) closing down existing ones wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of my list.
We need more teachers so let’s start by not winding up the ones we already have. They’re leaving faster than we can replace them. Accountability and workload are the career killers for many people. Massive concurrent curriculum change with no clarity around the standard expected standards is driving people mad. Anyone know what a grade 9 or 1 looks like in GCSE English or Maths next summer? Primary school teachers have faced a similar problem all this year.
Leaders also have a massive part to play but let’s create a culture across the whole education system that gives them a chance to address these issues. We may then actually attract more people into the profession; this could be a double whammy of a proposal.
We do need to do something about the underperformance of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Let’s attract as many teachers as possible to apply to schools in disadvantaged areas. If you work in a school in any one of the 20% of the most disadvantaged local authorities in England, the state will pay off 10% of your student fees per annum for as long as you carry on teaching there. This will start in your third year of teaching as we value experience and growing expertise. Don’t think everyone who teaches in a grammar or independent school can cut it on a Friday afternoon – in Blackpool, Liverpool, Knowsley, Bradford – with Year 9 following a wet, windy lunch time. Some will be able to, others won’t; we’ll sort out who can and who can’t on the interview day.
Talking of disadvantage, there’s a lot of that about up North, we could do with a more equitable share of the funding. See proposal 1 and add no more daft ideas like Shanghai Maths with no development time or Troops to Teachers; put the money into the funding formula pot. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not on. If we want a great system let’s have sufficient funds as well as Fairer Funding.
We’re going to run out of places for pupils; primary currently is looking a bit of a ‘mare. Secondary is next. My radical proposal is to build more schools, I commend this to the blogosphere.
It’s Teaching, Assessment and Learning, Stupid. This may well be the title of my Green paper and the mantra for school leaders and teachers. Focus on what matters, my government will not distract you with un-evidenced whims or political preferences. Crack on, you’re doing a great job.
If you want a great summary of the Green Paper; Schools Week has produced one here.
Or the full Green Paper is here.
My Green Paper response; nope to more independent school involvement they’re not the answer but will have some good ideas. If they don’t share them freely and openly cut off their charitable status.
We should definitely work more with universities; initial teacher education would be a great place to start.
Selective schools will not help social mobility. Evidence is pretty overwhelming so it’s a “no” from me; debate over, let’s move on.
I’m biased so hell yes to faith schools but only if they take at least the percentage of disadvantaged pupils as the average for the locality they are in.
As if things couldn’t get worse today, Geoff Barton decides to leave headship. Good luck to Geoff. After fifteen years in headship he’s more than done his bit. An articulate ambassador for the profession, the politicians should have listened to him more carefully. We’ll miss him when he’s moved on.