Careers Defender has morphed into Teacher Defender

Monday 23rd March 2015

I started this blog post meaning to comment about the need for holistic teaching of careers and work related learning... However, part of the way down I seemed to mutate from Careers Defender into Teacher Defender. (Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible) In the mean time here ae my musings.

Teaching to test
I was teaching in 1988 when the National Curriculum came into effect. As a business studies teacher, I remember meetings with the design and technology team to plan schemes of work which produced holistic projects which not only taught the prescribed curricula but also almost invariably seemed to be in a world of work scenario with pupils working in teams to achieve aims. However, this was short-lived and the word accountability seemed to be used a lot.

Thus, when, in 1992 school league tables and Ofsted came into our lives it meant a change. Slowly, over the following 23 years teaching was focussed more keenly than ever on academic results, the grading of lessons and effect on school performance. The cross curricular model that had come in with the NC disappeared fairly quickly, to be replaced by leading pupils step by step to regurgitate prescribed activities totally out of context. We are now at the point where the aim of education is no longer to produce numerate, literate members of society who will contribute to our communities. Our aim is to produce a young person who can display ability to reach a certain paper based, measurable assessment criteria.

Whilst I can see the reasons why this has been done, I'm afraid that change has had an unwanted side effect, our young people are almost totally unable to take the learning they have and place it in a real world situation. Is it any wonder that many employers are complaining about the shortcomings of our young people?

Grit, Citizenship, Resilience, Inspiration
These seem to be the buzz words of the current Government; to me their perceived lack in our young people is a by-product of the educational system that we now have. In 2007 the BBC described the league table/Ofsted combination "as powerful a weapon of control as the medieval thumbscrew" (Article here ) Since the Government took effective control of what is taught out of the hands of teachers,we have moved further and further away from what is needed by our young people and our country. The effective message promoted by Governement is that teachers are not to be trusted. Teachers have always known that that is twaddle,

Will not happen unless schools are free to determine own curriculum, without reprise from DfE league tables & Ofsted. pic.twitter.com/JDIP62Qqea

— @TeacherToolkit (@TeacherToolkit) March 22, 2015


At the weekend Nicky Morgan spoke to the ASCL conference and made this comment in response to the call for a curriculum authority independent of Government "it's my belief that what our children learn in schools must be something that is decided by democratically elected representatives." Why? The evidence is that non educators can't put together an effective programme. Their tinkering, to me, seems like somebody trying to do a rubik cube. Fix one bit, destroy another...

Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
Given that the Government often hail Finland to be the zentith of educational achievement, how long till we're going down this road? The Independant ran an article outlining the reaction of teacher in Finland (article here) How would teachers, who have learned to teach post 1992, which seems to be just about everyone, react to the change?

The need for an independent body to oversee education
Do we need to put in place a non Government organisation to oversee education? Many think we do. Given that I don't see any chance of the powers that be trusting teachers again and letting them get on with what they do so darn well, I think it's the best half way house. Will we get it? Given Nicky Morgan's quote earlier, I very much doubt it.

Teacher Defender has now left the building and Careers Defender will be back in residence for the next blog.