Friday, 2 January 2015

What could transform Education during 2015?

1) Stop the Academy brokering. This is not in the best interests of kids and serves only sponsors, for profit consultancies and a Government that pretends to offer freedom but has assumed control of over 50% of secondary schools. Money has seen an opportunity in Education and wants to speculate. Academies; despite the extra funding are showing no real difference in results to maintained schools.

2) Recognise that whatever the structure of the school it is local accountability and collaboration and not competition which will drive standards.

3) College of Teaching. Promotes CPD for all Teachers and research led strategies for school improvement. Simple.

4) Ofsted revolution. Ofsted are running backwards so quickly that they may at some point catch up with their arse. Franchises of additional inspectors/failed teachers have destroyed the brand. Only HMI; serving teachers and Heads should appraise other schools. Local accountability should rely less on raw data and more on how the school serves the community it belongs to. 

5) Reform exam marking. If you pay peanuts you'll get monkeys. Chartered examiners are required to raise the profile and marking standard.With the use of on screen marking now the norm; all end of course exams to be marked twice and moderated.Transparency required for schools and scripts recalled for free. 

6) Recruitment and retention. Let's start making this an attractive profession to those who are already in it. A few photo friendly graduates are not going to transform Education. The 30-55 age group just might. 

7) Performance related Pay. What a waste of energy. How many Maths, English and Science teachers are queuing up to join our schools? Invest in the teachers you have recruited. Or did they just arrive in reception and ask to teach? 

8) School places. If you think free schools in over subscribed areas are the answer to finding thousands of new need to take the numeracy test for Teacher trainees.

9) Academic and Vocational parity. We all knew Tomlinson was right and we need A level equivalent vocational qualifications for all to 18. In fact; why not assess at 18 rather than 16 and make a baccalaureate at 18 the defining achievement?

10) Respect. Teachers should have the same status as Doctors and Lawyers. We have more impact on society than any other profession. Having some belief in ourselves might lead to more belief from parents and students. 

Teach. Don't let those who can't teach; tell you how to teach. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

5 things that our schools should stop for good

There is still an overwhelming mess caused by bad decision making in our schools. Teachers face the collateral damage of policies which are rarely challenged by staff and are hard to stop for good. Often, behaviour is initiated by the biggest beast Ofsted. It doesn't seem to matter what school you're in;the shadow of Ofsted dominates our school communities. How can a national inspection regime dictate the majority of decisions in local schools?  Our School leaders are often transfixed by the power they yield and that's not only in the schools found hovering above arbitrary floor targets. The evidence that schools do not set the agenda can be found in the policies that schools pursue.

Opinion: We should run our schools for the students in front of us and trust the professionalism of teachers. Governments are entitled to assess National standards but we should not run our schools for the purpose of inspection. A good leader knows the strengths and weaknesses of their staff.

Here are 5 things that we should stop for good:

1) Using Ofsted grading criteria to assess individual lesson observations. The labelling of teachers on a 4 point scale used by Ofsted as part of a wider context to inspect schools; is one of the most unfortunate developments and is widespread. Are you or a 1,2,3 or 4? A 20 minute lesson obs shouldn't suggest wether you should be a Lead practitioner or that you should get your coat and head to the door.

2) Mocksteds. Teams of Education consultants have made considerable money sweeping into schools they know little about and pretending to prance around like inspectors. SLT also like to dress up sometimes and play the inspection game. Department audits and Learning walks instead of having beneficial purposes just become catch -you- out and arse covering exercises.

3) Delusional target setting. If you want to appear that your school is on the HS2 to Outstanding(label) then set KS2-KS4 targets that would put you in top 1% of schools. Use 2 levels of progress? No. Use 3 levels of progress? No. Let's use 6 levels of progress ! So, a student starting Secondary school with the Literacy and Numeracy skills of a 7 year old is given the aspirational target of A* in GCSEs. Of course this is possible, but not that probable. Anyone denying the aspirational targets is accused of heresy and denying the existence of magic. Who are the targets really for? It begins with O and ends in D and they didn't have a hit with 'Joan of Arc' in the 80's.

4) Behaviour systems which don't deal with bad behaviour.  Each student collects points;stamps a card; enters a raffle; ticks a box; moves through colours; collects a tie,pen or a yellow sticker and no one at any point deals with the fact that they have just called Miss a 'bitch'. Without proper consequences(and repairs) for students; you stand as much chance of succeeding as a supply teacher in a war zone.

5) CPD which is not Continuous or Professional and fails to Develop anything. We've all sat through all the fads and trends often sold to Management on Friday courses. VAK is a personal favourite: write down and match the learning activities to the learning styles on lesson plans;every lesson. I intended to teach the poem but now the students must be able to see, hear and touch the text. Until, we have real, context driven and personalised CPD; we're better off marking books for a day.

I'm sure your school may have never indulged in any of the above.