The Local Schools Network

Below is my response to an article written by Francis Gilbert (one of the founders of the Local Schools Network) entitled ‘What is Good Teaching and How Can We Encourage It?’ The piece begins with Gilbert explaining that he’s just been on Newsnight. He goes on to say that the majority of the discussion on Newsnight was about whether performance-related-pay (PRP) will improve teaching standards. I decided to comment on PRP:

On the subject of ‘performance related pay’: it is one of a number of key characteristics of a marketised system because it introduces ‘flexible’ pay, that is it leads to a weakening of terms and conditions for those actually doing the hardest work: teachers. It lends itself to a more ‘hire and fire’ approach; it appeals not to a teachers’ mind-set, expecting to work in a supportive and collegiate environment, but rather to a managerial mind-set more used to thinking about the bottom-line (i.e. treating a school like a profit-making business).
Interestingly PRP was implemented in the 19th century (then known as ‘payment-by-results’). This was more as a result of ignorance than our current politician’s cynical desire to turn over a democratically accountable public service to private business interests. It was subsequently abandoned. Why? Because it led to ‘teaching-to-the-test’, a narrow curriculum and fiddling with results; this is what it will lead to in the 21st century as well. Teachers back then – almost all them women – successfully unshackling themselves from ‘payment-by-results’ was a big step in the right direction for people’s education in this country; it was also an early step towards the professionalization of teaching.
It’s understandable that politicians assume PRP is a good move because these careerist politicians are themselves incentivised by big money interests (think of all those ‘revolving doors’ between Westminster and the banking/corporate world, a classic example in our case would be Gove and Murdoch): doing everything they can to sell off our publicly owned and managed schooling system.
The question ‘What is good teaching and how can we encourage it?’ is, of course, a perennial one. There is masses of research out there to answer this question but it is not what underpins our current system (a good example: the ignoring of the Cambridge Primary Review). This is because it is not what drives policy.
It’s heart-breaking to see our more social model of education being sold off like this. If it’s true that our education system produces politicians who can’t see beyond their own greed and a generation of teachers who know practically nothing about the real motivations of these same politicians (the marketisation of education is well documented and understood at an academic level; you only need to look to the US to see where we are headed) we must question it in its entirety.

I was glad to have responses from Francis Gilbert and also my hero Janet Downs, a proper journalist.

The whole post can be found here: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2014/07/what-is-good-teaching-and-how-can-we-encourage-it/

On the subject of ‘performance related pay’: it is one of a number of key characteristics of a marketised system because it introduces ‘flexible’ pay, that is it leads to a weakening of terms and conditions for those actually doing the hardest work: teachers. It lends itself to a more ‘hire and fire’ approach; it appeals not to a teachers’ mind-set, expecting to work in a supportive and collegiate environment, but rather to a managerial mind-set more used to thinking about the bottom-line (i.e. treating a school like a profit-making business).
Interestingly PRP was implemented in the 19th century (then known as ‘payment-by-results’). This was more as a result of ignorance than our current politician’s cynical desire to turn over a democratically accountable public service to private business interests. It was subsequently abandoned. Why? Because it led to ‘teaching-to-the-test’, a narrow curriculum and fiddling with results; this is what it will lead to in the 21st century as well. Teachers back then – almost all them women – successfully unshackling themselves from ‘payment-by-results’ was a big step in the right direction for people’s education in this country; it was also an early step towards the professionalization of teaching.
It’s understandable that politicians assume PRP is a good move because these careerist politicians are themselves incentivised by big money interests (think of all those ‘revolving doors’ between Westminster and the banking/corporate world, a classic example in our case would be Gove and Murdoch): doing everything they can to sell off our publicly owned and managed schooling system.
The question ‘What is good teaching and how can we encourage it?’ is, of course, a perennial one. There is masses of research out there to answer this question but it is not what underpins our current system (a good example: the ignoring of the Cambridge Primary Review). This is because it is not what drives policy.
It’s heart-breaking to see our more social model of education being sold off like this. If it’s true that our education system produces politicians who can’t see beyond their own greed and a generation of teachers who know practically nothing about the real motivations of these same politicians (all is well documented and understood at an academic level) we must question it in its entirety. – See more at: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2014/07/what-is-good-teaching-and-how-can-we-encourage-it/#sthash.fJL3JPf4.dpuf
On the subject of ‘performance related pay’: it is one of a number of key characteristics of a marketised system because it introduces ‘flexible’ pay, that is it leads to a weakening of terms and conditions for those actually doing the hardest work: teachers. It lends itself to a more ‘hire and fire’ approach; it appeals not to a teachers’ mind-set, expecting to work in a supportive and collegiate environment, but rather to a managerial mind-set more used to thinking about the bottom-line (i.e. treating a school like a profit-making business).
Interestingly PRP was implemented in the 19th century (then known as ‘payment-by-results’). This was more as a result of ignorance than our current politician’s cynical desire to turn over a democratically accountable public service to private business interests. It was subsequently abandoned. Why? Because it led to ‘teaching-to-the-test’, a narrow curriculum and fiddling with results; this is what it will lead to in the 21st century as well. Teachers back then – almost all them women – successfully unshackling themselves from ‘payment-by-results’ was a big step in the right direction for people’s education in this country; it was also an early step towards the professionalization of teaching.
It’s understandable that politicians assume PRP is a good move because these careerist politicians are themselves incentivised by big money interests (think of all those ‘revolving doors’ between Westminster and the banking/corporate world, a classic example in our case would be Gove and Murdoch): doing everything they can to sell off our publicly owned and managed schooling system.
The question ‘What is good teaching and how can we encourage it?’ is, of course, a perennial one. There is masses of research out there to answer this question but it is not what underpins our current system (a good example: the ignoring of the Cambridge Primary Review). This is because it is not what drives policy.
It’s heart-breaking to see our more social model of education being sold off like this. If it’s true that our education system produces politicians who can’t see beyond their own greed and a generation of teachers who know practically nothing about the real motivations of these same politicians (all is well documented and understood at an academic level) we must question it in its entirety. – See more at: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2014/07/what-is-good-teaching-and-how-can-we-encourage-it/#sthash.fJL3JPf4.dpuf

July 10th-Trafalgar Square-Public Sector Protest

So it was off to central London today to take part in a march and rally ostensibly about pay and pensions;  my good old  placard (https://jennycollinsteacher.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/homemade-nut-strike-placard/) was spotted by three different news organisations who all interviewed me. The placard stood out because it was homemade and also because it didn’t just say ‘Gove Out’ but instead made some attempt to draw attention to the reasons behind the current attacks on teachers and schools (marketisation). Here are the three websites that carried out the interviews.

1. http://www.presstv.com/

2. http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php

3. http://www.leftcom.org/en

At one point a fellow protesting teacher reacted to the line on the placard that reads ‘Marketise, Monetise: Tory, Labour: All the Same’ by asking ‘What alternative do we have?’ I suggested a cabinet that was not made up of millionaires – i.e. genuinely representative – as one example of a preferable alternative. Later on I was approached by an Argentinian couple, one of whom was a teacher, who looked at the placard and told me “We are having just the same problems in Argentina, only worse”.

I was also approached by somebody who wanted to know who Joel Klein was, a name written on my placard. It interested me that this person, the only person to ask me about the names on the placard, retired from teaching ten years ago having taught for forty years. I don’t think teachers of this generation are asking the right questions; they seem pretty naive. I don’t see the NUT as a tough union and I’m not convinced teachers in this country are up for a fight. As far as I can see this is down to a lack of knowledge about their own circumstances combined with both a sceptical attitude towards any sort of political posturing and a lame ‘I’d rather be shopping’ type apathy.

It was good to see the Firefighters out in strength on the same march. They had a good sense of solidarity to them with matching Fire Brigades Union T-shirts, partners and children in tow and even playing some music (‘Get Up, Stand Up’ by Bob Marley, not the most original of choices perhaps but appropriate enough and a welcome, cheerful sound).

I also met one of the people behind this intriguing blog: http://www.theunlessonmanifesto.blogspot.com It is similar to this blog for a number of reasons . It’s the first blog I’ve found that is.