Question: What is Education? Answer: An emerging market!

In the following link Stefan Collini reviews two books that both look into the marketisation of higher education. It is shocking stuff:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n20/stefan-collini/sold-out

Meanwhile here are some extracts from my own talk about the marketisation of education that I delivered at the State of Education Conference on Saturday 1st March (http://stateofeducation2014.wordpress.com/).

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Email to Ed Dorrell, TES features and comment editor

A couple of months ago Ed Dorrell, the features editor at the TES, wrote an editorial about school autonomy and whether or not it is really happening. Unfortunately I can’t give you a link to the piece because you have to subscribe to the TES to see it online. I wrote to him because I felt that he hadn’t made any effort to unpick the terms or look behind the motives of those pushing for greater school ‘autonomy’.
Here’s the email (it’s not as long as the Gabriel Sahlgren one but like that email it also went unanswered):

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Market Reform of Education: My Letter to Gabriel H Sahlgren

I read your article (Leave Schools Alone to Judge the Best in Show) in the most recent TES (20.09.13) with great interest. I have written and re-written my email to you because I had to remove lots of spittle-flecked ranting in an attempt to engage with your underlying philosophy. My main question I suppose is: what convinces you that the market – an entity that seeks profit above all else – would be the best model on which to base a national education system? What I have written here is not an academic, properly sourced essay.

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A Letter to my son’s headteacher

My son’s school recently had to undergo an Ofsted inspection. The school ended up being given a ‘3’ which translates as ‘in need of improvement’ (aren’t we all). Here is the letter I sent to the headteacher. It was photocopied for all teachers in the school and a copy now takes pride of place on the wall of my son’s classroom. I hope that it might inspire other parents to write similar letters of support in the same circumstances.

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Another disgruntled teacher!

Here is a letter published in the Metro free newspaper on 15th October. It is from a ‘Disgruntled Teacher’ (not me!) Well done Metro for printing it and well done Disgruntled Teacher for sending it. I know just how you feel.

Readers have been blaming teachers for the below-average level of young people’s literacy and numeracy. I would like to point out that teachers are under constant scrutiny and pressure to drive pupil attainment higher. As a primary school teacher, I must ensure my seven and eight-year-olds reach specific attainment levels by the end of the year and I am subject to termly moderations to make sure they are all on track. I am wholly accountable for their progress.

            My problem is that this increased pressure on children to perform and make progress means opportunities for exploration and enjoyment of learning are pushed aside as there is ‘no time’. We are creating classrooms of robots who lack self expression and interest. As teachers, we are under such strict time constraints on what must be covered that it is having an adverse affect on education. So they may be able to write a perfectly formed letter at seven but at what cost?

                                                                        Disgruntled Teacher via email

Thought dismissed

I have left one school and moved on to another. At the last place they never did show the staff ‘Waiting for Superman’. Apparently there “wasn’t time”. I like to think that my exposure of this film as a horrid piece of corporate propaganda helped to keep it off the agenda. In my old classroom I left a picture of some fine young ladies sitting at their harpsichord; as you can see I have put words in the mouth of one and thoughts in the mind of the other, and I re-titled it as well: it is no longer ‘Adelaide de Guiedan and her sister’ (by Nicolas de Largilliere) but instead ‘Pupils will not learn to think for themselves if their teachers are expected to do as they are told’. You will have to click on the picture to read the other quotes. They are both from the Cambridge Primary Review (2010)

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A state theory of learning

A state theory of learning

I understand that the member of senior management who came across this, whilst instructing someone else to clear the room, decided to personally remove this portion of wall-display. Perhaps it now adorns the wall of a senior management office. We may never know…