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Are we any better than we were 10 years ago?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by WB, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. WB

    WB Star commenter

    I've been teaching over 10 years now. In that time I've seen many new ideas come and go and then come back again. I've been made to replan maths and literacy every 2 to 3 years, I've seen the strategies held up as the ONLY possible way to teach and I've then seen them die. I've read piles of documents such as the Rose Review and the umteen new versions of the curriculum. And after it all are we any better? What do you think?
     
  2. I think that we're worse off with the lack of sentence and word level work in Literacy. It worries me that the basics aren't being taught as much any more and I've definitely seen a drop in standards as a result.
     
  3. I think we're worse off and a lot more stressed. I've been teaching over 35 years so have seen things come and go. Most changes come around again one day with a new name, new targets, new planning etc but don't usually make children's or teachers' lives any easier. I got out and now do supply. Less stress, a LOT less money but a much better work/life balance.
     
  4. lardylegs

    lardylegs Occasional commenter

    I've been teaching 17 years and things have gone downhill fast. Every staff meeting you go to ends up with more bits of paper to be filled in. Hours and hours of paper filling in. Pupils must be seen to be having 'fun' and must be 'challenged' in every lesson (which must, of course, be differentiated 3 ways). The focus on SEN has devalued the rights of the 'average' child. TA time is so finely calculated they don't really have time to do general support. Parents are less supportive and more demanding. If Jeremiah can't read Harry Potter by the end of Year 1 it's all our fault. If kids don't make the right progress it's all our fault, regardless of their intelligence. Numeracy and Literacy Strategies were the Only Answer, then the New Framework was the Only Answer, then the Creative Curriculum was the Only Answer. Then you have companies cashing in on the gaps, fads like Big Write, Talk for Writing, etc etc. PSHE must be recorded. French must be taught. Forest Flucking Schools must happen. Self-esteem must be nurtured, regardless of reality. Parents must be appeased, in case they move kid to another school. ICT must be embedded throughout curriculum. Topics must be kick-started with 'life enhancing' experiences. Cooking must happen so that children know about Healthy Eating. Community Cohesion was flavour of the month for a while, so we all went down the OAP centre and wrote to kids in Africa and Croydon (once). Intervention is crucial, so every lesson is interrupted by a random TA arriving at the door and dragging out Kayleigh, Tyrone and Zubima for extra phonics. Phonics is the Only Answer so we must sound everything out. Except 'said' and 'trough' and 'knelt'. No child must be bored, not for a second. Children must have visual stimulation at all times, no worksheets must be used, but textbooks are also banned, so you must make up exercises for everyone (differentiated 3 ways, of course.....) Bah!
     
  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Teaching has got a lot harder. Very high expectations on teachers - and lots more paperwork. I have lost count of the initiatives that have come and go.
    Fundamentally - what effect has this had on children and outcomes? Has their maths improved? Literacy? Sense of achievement and enjoyment at school?
    Well - there's certainly lots more evidence to look at. Children still find maths difficult and they still struggle with decent writing. 40% of children do not get a Grade C at GCSE in Maths. 50% of children do not get 5 or more GCSES (A* - C including English and Maths). That's half the country - they've been through the literacy hour, numeracy hour and lots of changes in primary education.
    SATs - well we've become better at teaching to the test. We seem to have forgotten how to consolidate learning and instead focus on progress, progress, progress. It takes time to embed learning so it becomes second nature.
    I think children have become viewed as "data" and not as children. We give them targets, learning objectives, feedback, ways of improving - all adding to their stress.
     
  6. TreesK

    TreesK New commenter

    Definitely not..
    WALT. WILF. AFL. WAGOLL and, ***, WABOLL.
    Frankly, CBA and DILLIGAF.
    Huge, inflated clouds of overheated analysis of largely guessed-at, lovingly massaged subjective data. Ten years ago everyone moaned just as much, mind you, but it wasn't as bad. And the kids were much the same.
    Dear oh dear I am about ready for half term[​IMG]
     
  7. TreesK

    TreesK New commenter

    Huh! Tes censored my acronym-based swearing. Wouldn't have done that ten years ago.
    Glad to see DILLIGAF got through though.
     
  8. It's alll about playing the (OFSTED) game, ticking all the boxes and covering your own backside. Are the children any better off in the long run? Probably not.
     
  9. becktonboy

    becktonboy New commenter

    Some of the posters here would definitely find common ground with my blog on this.
     
  10. Also don't forget that
    If Jeremiah is overweight. it's OUR ault for not encouraging healthy eating.
    If Jeremiah is in debt, WE haven't taught him to manage money correctly.
    If Jeremiah is unfit, WE haven't provided enough exercise.
    Children are with us from 9-3 (6 hours a day). the 18 hours they are with parents yet we have to do it all, from teaching them social skills to reading and writing.
     
  11. WB

    WB Star commenter

    It's not just me then!

    Lardy, You said it much better than me! Every Head should read your post.
     
  12. tortuman

    tortuman New commenter

    Wow! That doesn't really give me much confidence in the system. I work in secondary and here the situation is dire, but while investigating possible routes for future education of my little one, one of them being home-ed, people keep saying to me "primary schools are okay, they are happy places, the problem with secondary schools is the behaviour." Obviously hearing the professionals cast a totally different light on the issue.
    By the way, I know in secondary school people are moving more and more away from textbooks, but what is the apparent "reason" why they are "banned" in primary school, as one previous poster said?
     
  13. 2r2e

    2r2e New commenter

    tortuman - most primary schools are happy places. Some of the points above may well be valid but overall yes we are better. No matter what percentages there are for kids falling below a certain arbitrary level, they can read and write better, the average IQ is raising year on year and teacher's professional skills and subject knowledge are undoubtedly higher than when i started teaching. It's irritating that there are so many top down directives reflecting the political leanings of those in charge at the time but a good team can (usually) make them work to the kids advantage and maintain the nurturing, humane and cheerful environment we all want for our kids. While an individual teacher might have grievances, which might be entirely valid or just be unjustifiable moaning, we are working in a system that is basically doing a good job. It is let down, perhaps, by trying to get too much out of the 6 hours a day we have with the kids and therefore cramming and rushing content which should be explored, enjoyed and responded to for it to be properly understood. For all its stresses, it's the best way to make a living I've been able to try!
     
  14. tortuman

    tortuman New commenter

    Well, I suppose different teachers may have different expectations. However, (maybe I am one of those horrible pushy parents) , I would expect something more on the lines of primary schools offer a good education rather than "they are happy places". I am sure circuses and zoos are happy places too, but not necessarily offer an education as such. Of course, I agree one must enjoy his/her work and/or education, but it is really one of the things that bugs me about lots of people's comments. I know somebody personally who admits to not have a clue about what his children are doing in school, and equally admitted that he didn't care because "they are happy in their school and they enjoy it" although his daughter is at the bottom of the class and not academic. I have heard many comments like this, which really worries me. Not that I am like one of this parents you see on freak TV shows that want their kids to have 5 A levels by age 11, but a bit more clear cut information rather than "happy places" would be welcome.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Another pet-hate of mine are those famous "levels", maybe the reason why I dislike them is because I don't understand them. To be honest, I have been investigating different educational routes, local private schools, local "good" (yes, happy schools), local wacky privates.... you know, Steiner, Montessory... and home-ed. When investigating the National Curriculum for Primaries I felt like somebody who's learnt to decode the spellings but can understand a word. From my point of view the levels describe skills but they are not clear about the "content". Which is all very well because we don't want to feed our kids with just facts and figures without understanding. However, I suspect that these very "loose" descriptions are adapted ad-hoc by every school, which really means that everybody does different things, and it's just really difficult to know what is it that kids are supposed to know to reach such or such level. What's wrong with the A-B-C system?----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Regarding what you say about the IQ being higher than before, well. Personally, I find it scary, given all the stories I hear from family and friends regarding recent school leavers and even university graduates with appalling levels not just of general knowledge but with a total inability to act by themselves or think by themselves. Obviously, this only represents a small sample of population...--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In my own personal experience I have met different generations of learners, I have been teaching and tutoring in FE and adult settings as well as in secondary. It is amazing to see how different age bands have different cultural knowledge, the oldest students have no problem recognizing Latin based words that are the same or similar in French and Spanish and English. Something that when they see it written they immediately say, yes, this is ... whatever in English and they know what it means. Amazingly my younger students don't have a clue of any of these words, recently a very clever, good family, good school ... all the brownies student admitted that she didn't know what chauvinism was, when I said "sexism" as I imagine that this word is more used nowadays she admitted she may have heard it but didn´t have a clue what it meant. This is just a small example, but I could give you a long list of cultural references that are very "British" that these so called "good students" from "good families" who can afford to pay for private classes don't have a clue about. Which is very scary specially since you are so adamant that the IQ has increased, what was it before?--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I am sure they are very good at "skills", but I think that you can't really have skill without knowing stuff so you can apply it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I also support Literacy and I would swear that the levels get worse and worse for every Y7 we get. It may be influenced by the amount of EAL kids that are coming into primary as well, increasing the pressure for teachers and making it more difficult to teach.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I don´t know, this is probably moaning as you say, but I can't ignore the fact that whenever we get exchange students from abroad or new EAL students they are surprised to see that the levels of content are quite behind what they would be doing in their countries. I understand that in this country we are trying to develop the "thinking side", however, when you try to get children to talk about a text or about a topic they just say "I don't know miss. I wouldn´t know what to say in English about it, I don't have an opinion..."
     
  15. I'm a bit embarrassed by many of the postings above, especially as it appears parents have read them! Education is FAR better in the UK than it was ten years ago, as demonstrated by pretty much every study and statistic you can find. To say results have risen because teachers have been teaching to the test devalues the efforts of pretty much every student in the country. And let's not forget that people have been harping on about falling exam rigor for at least two hundred years! The National Strategies were, admittedly, far too proscriptive and need a bit of common sense to make work (I.e. being used as a guide not the law as was originality intended). As a Headteacher with two children in primary education I feel very lucky to be involved in education right now (i have the best job in the world, the second best being teaching itslef - something i still do) and for my children to be receiving such a rich learning experience.
     

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