The intentions of Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of the body overseeing Education, in trying to raise standards in schools serving disadvantaged communities are no doubt good, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And the situation in the UK education system, if reports from teachers, parents and pupils is to be believed is if not hell, them a very close approcimation. Wilshaw is honest enough to admit that Ofsted has failed to make a significant impact on standards, especially in the North of England. He is right to highlight the shortage of good teachers — but fails to understand that Ofsted itself, by embracing trendy ideas hatched by people who have spent their working lives in universities studying the theory of progressive education is actually driving good teachers out of the profession.
Once a school is designated by Ofsted as in need of improvement, teacher workload increases exponentially. It is the standard theory of management science that measuring things is the same as managing them. Thus everything has to be documented, collated, processed and analysed statistically. To provide “proof of progress,” secondary teachers may have to mark up to 200 workbooks every two weeks. “Performance Management” entails frequent lesson observations by senior management. Pupils interpret this as suggesting their teachers aren’t true professionals, they aren’t trusted to deliver lessons or control a class properly.
On top of this, teachers in failing schools must attend training sessions and endless staff meetings, even if they are already excellent teachers. Sadly, there is no evidence that these actions, which must necessarily drag the good and highly committed teachers down to a lowest common denominator, actually improve learning. Likewise, there is little evidence that exam results improve following an Ofsted inspection, and some evidence to show that they drop.
The average teacher in England works a 55-hour week, but in failing schools it can be as much as 65 or even 70 hours. Experienced teacher say it is possible to teach effectively with that kind of a workload and although such working hours are common in business and commerce, people in those sectors do not have to deal with stupid, snotty nosed, hormonally hyperactive adolescents.
It would be folly to suggest that schools shouldn’t be accountable. In England, the first school inspectors were appointed in 1837. Like railways, the electric motor and the stored program computer, school inspections are a British innovation. It takes real british elitist arrogance to assume that a team of former teachers can spend a few hours in a school and discover its weaknesses and to suggest improvements.
While improvements to the curriculum (less abstract mathematics, more applied science etc.) would improve pupil engagement, if we want to find out how well children are learning, there is one very simple and obvious solution: test them.
While trendies believe testing should be abandoned because it encourages competitiveness and may induce a sense of failure in some pupils, if anything modern pupils are overtested but badly tested. This is because the ministry has become obsessed with performance targets and league tables.
Objective tests of knowledge and understanding are not difficult to devise, administer or score. Many schools do this already to provide real “proof of progress” for inspectors. Exam boards are publishing online quizzes for teachers to use to prepare pupils for the GCSEs.
Any proposal to extend this type of testing will prove highly controversial: progressive educators like Sir Kenneth Robinson regard tests as a relic of supposedly obsolete “factory schools”. Yet the creativity that he cherishes cannot emerge in a vacuum of knowledge. Disciplined study is required, whatever creer one plans to enter.
This is why pupils in blighted communities have failed to keep pace — you really do need to know a lot about a subject before it becomes interesting. You need to have parents who can make good the gaps in the knowledge-light, political correctness heavy curriculum that has prevailed over the last 50 years. You also need to have teachers who understand that younger kids do respond well to the learning by rote of their early years in education, learning that is an integral part of mastering a subject.
Academics Warn Politically Correct Universities ‘Are Killing Free Speech’
Free speech is under attack from politicians and minority rights activists, but when universities start censoring ideas, society is in trouble. So what is going on when speakers who have challenged the politically correct consensus are denied a platform to speak on unrelated topics.
Tacit Approval From US Liberals For Islamic Indoctrination In US Schools.
Some schools in US State Of Virginia are closed today, because parents objected to Islamic indoctrination by the state education system. The US Constitution’s clauses on the separation of church and state forbid the promotion of any specific religious teaching, in fact US liberals tend to get their knickers in a twist over signs in classrooms that show the motto “In God we trust.”
New UK ‘Living Wage’ Rules Making Businesses Reluctant To Hire
Concerns about a new, higher UK minimum wage (Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘living wage’ are making UK businesses reluctant to hire new staff. Uncertainty about the ‘living wage’ rules is contributing to a significant slowdown in hiring via recruitment firms, according to recruitment industry sources …
Eight Subjects That Ought To Be Part Of The Manadtory Curriculum For Basic Education?
Should subjects like meditation and gardening be part of the school currriculum? Or as one high school in Massachusetts, USA, seems to believe, classes in analyzing conspiracy theories (if taught properly this could help students distinguish between a true conspiracy theory, a fantasy and what is legitimate questioning of official propaganda. The embedded article from Collective Evolution presents some interesting ideas.
Students censored – An Academic Community In A Crisis Of Collectivism.
Intellectual freedom in our universities is under threat from … intellectuals. So overbearing have the left wing screechers of bourgeois politically correct leftism now become that even the universities have surrendered to the intellectual control freakery of cultural Marxism. But if universities are now dedicated to turning out dull minded conformists, what hope is there for western society?
Who Should Make Decision About Childrens’ Welfare, Parents Or Authoritarian Left Wing Schoolteachers?
We like stories about bureaucrats abusing their authority and about schoolteachers (especiall head teachers) letting their inner fascist out of the closet. So a story than combines both, like this tale of a South Yorkshire primary school head who banned packed lunches because out of concern for ‘her’ children’s welfare she wanted them to have no alternative to the nutrition free slop served by the school kitchen.
Poor white pupils put off school by multicultural timetable
Education, should it be about learning to read, write, spell and calculate? Or should it be about feminism, gay rights, black history and ‘gender awareness’ whatever that is? For many years we have had multiculturalism and politically correct thinking rammed doiwn pupils throats but noe a study by a local education department suggests this obsession with politicallly corret diversity is responsible for the failure of white working class pupils.
Education, Education, Education And To Hell With The Kids
Teaching used to be a vocation and education a high minded calling for those who wished to prepare young minds for adult life by making the process of learning, in the classroom, by discovery and through osmosis, an exciting and fulfilling lifelong process
The Degree Factory: The Decline Of University Education
The decline of university education in parallel with dumbing down of the general population is contributing to the economic and social problems of the industriaised democracies. But why have standars been allowed to slip so far and can the trend in university education towards theraputic and politically correct courses be reversed?
Where Is Bicycle Repair Man When The World Needs Him
A superhero whose superpower is repairing bikes? It was a sketch in a Monty Python’s Flying Circus show. But forty years on is it as crazy as it sounded then? We seem to have plenty of people with degrees in things that are not every practical and shortages of people who can do useful stuff. And when we have health and safety officers stopping people from climbing ladders unless they have been properly trained, people are discouraged from learning those everyday skills by themselves.
Comedy and humour