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Further evidence as to why English state education is in turmoil...

Discussion in 'Education news' started by BigFrankEM, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Occasional commenter

    In the years since retirement, I often muse on quite how the current situation came to pass.

    I have often thought, and posted here, that the broad propensity to cowardice of most of my "professional" colleagues (with a very small number of honourable exceptions) was a significant factor. And this remains my point of view.

    However the following article highlights that the repeated appeals to the legislature by the teachers unions on all manner of topics from exam reform to salaries to working hours to lack of professional structures over the years were, from the content of the following article, tantamount to baying at the moon.

    How can you expect anything but the present imbroglio from legislators of this calibre?

    Perhaps the real conclusion is actually, unbelievable as it seems, relief that with "rulers" of this calibre the present shambles isn't even worse?

    The details of what goes on in the privacy of some parliamentary offices are shocking.

    In the last few days, I’ve spoken to staffers who recall MPs suddenly breaking out into tearful, screaming tantrums over issues as petty as what food their staff have bought them for lunch.

    Another tells of a prominent parliamentarian who would refuse to talk to her staff at all for days on end – eight hours a day in a small shared office – as a punishment for some perceived slight. The MP’s silence would only be broken by bouts of swearing, or throwing objects – phones, books and even handbags – at their unfortunate researcher.

    The list goes on. One MP makes a habit of ringing employees at home, at night, to shout and swear at them. Another expresses his anger at staff by punching filing cabinets and overturning furniture. Yet another is prone to fits of rage that even extend to throwing shoes at his employees.

    And to think that Brits, voters and legislators alike, still mock the likes of President Trump.

    schoolsout4summer and phlogiston like this.
  2. Bobbbs

    Bobbbs Occasional commenter

    Education is not valued in Britain, by the government or the people.

    It has less to do with the individual MPs, and more to do with the general culture that education isn't all that important. It's worsened, of course, by the ridiculous fees you have to pay for University here.

    People here dislike teachers, so why would they campaign to improve education?
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I will post at greater length when I have more time, and when I've thought a bit more.
    I think one problem is that there has been (for centuries?) a cult of personality and trivialisation in a lot of media coverage politics.
    Our papers proclaim how weak Mrs May is, how unreliable Jeremy Corbyn is, how foolish Boris is. A few months ago Mrs May was "strong and stable" and " a good leader for Brexit". All too often the actual real issues are upstaged.
    Meanwhile, these leaders as quoted by Frank, feel that temper tantrums are part of leadership strength.
    I have noted how much more civilised politicians are when they're in opposition (or out of parliament altogether).
  4. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Our system of ministers with great power but little practical knowledge is often detrimental. We have a leadership caste brought up to think they can turn their hand to anything - to be fair many of them are "academic" smart. When they are given responsibility for something, they have to "do something". As they don't know much detail about their brief, they rely on researchers (unless it's Boris J who just makes it up badly) and what they think is their brilliance. If the researcher has got it wrong, they're shown up. In addition, they're usually anxious to get a better ministry, so rather than keeping things moving the way they were, they want to tinker and show everyone how smart they are.
    I think every education secretary should be made to spend time in a tough underfunded school, every home secretary should spend time in a prison and on the beat with the police and so on.

    I wonder if some of the behaviour Frank's source describes is frustration because they realise they're not all powerful after all.
    tonymars and galerider123 like this.
  5. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    Too many staffers have had their dream job turn into a nightmare. Too many talented, young, confident people have been left in distress or suffering lasting mental health problems as the price for involvement in public service. The Westminster bullying scandal is yet to break out of those WhatsApp groups and hushed back-channels, but it is surely coming.

    Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/bullying-politics-next-westminster-scandal-exposed/

    Does this sound familiar? When academy heads are directly responsible to government, is THAT the reason that bullying culture is endemic in our schools...is it passed down from higher up...?
    schoolsout4summer likes this.
  6. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Lead commenter

    The crushing scrutiny and absurd and wrong use of data. I recently read the Ofsted report of a primary school which had got 'requires improvement'. The head teacher had died a few weeks before the inspection, and the school was small. Can you imagine how those poor teachers and pupils must have been feeling? Only a soulless ***** would have thought it appropriate to hold an inspection under those circumstances. It speaks volumes about how our education system is run.
    tonymars and schoolsout4summer like this.
  7. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Occasional commenter

    I take it for granted that we all (ok, almost all) agree that the working environment in English state schools leaves a lot to be desired, as it were.

    My post is related to how and/ or why we got into this mess.

    And, though I didn't make it clear in my OP, how we might get out of it. (Not in my lifetime, I accept.)

    Obviously, from the quotes I used, the idea that Members of Parliament might have some positive input is looking even more unlikely than previously.

    "And that's saying something."
  8. CheeseMongler

    CheeseMongler Senior commenter

    I can't get past the pessimistic side of me that this not in my lifetime either... I'm in my 30s.
    It's all due to governmental pressures, in whatever form. Trouble is, even if there is a miracle policy that works, the public won't see any clear benefits for 10, probably 20 years. In this timescale, there will be at least four general elections and so who knows what will happen with those.
    The only way to avoid this would be to stop governments influencing education policy. I've only ever seen negative effects every time the government imposes a new initiative. They just need to p*** off and leave us professional teachers to decide on the best way to educate the next generation rather than sticking their finger in. Oh, and give us a bit more money please!
    schoolsout4summer likes this.
  9. eljefeb90

    eljefeb90 Senior commenter

    I started teaching in the early 1980s. To be honest, there was too much teacher autonomy then and there were a significant minority of teachers who were terrible. Zero preparation, no real interest in the kids or pedagogy, often poor class control,or alternatively a bullying, sarcastic attitude to the students. If you were idealistic and committed, it was great to devise your own lessons, get into new initiatives, even create your own courses. As @Doitforfree says, it is the total lack of autonomy and the oppressive levels of scrutiny and accountability that are forcing good teachers out of the profession and drives the ever-increasing workload. From one extreme to the other . We need to dial back on accountability, reduce the hierarchical structures in schools and focus on pedagogy not data and box ticking.
    schoolsout4summer likes this.
  10. circuskevin

    circuskevin Occasional commenter

    I have argued in the House of Commons that 'teachers are dimwits'.

    They could do so much better for all sorts of special needs students as I once wrote to David Cameron.

    Anyone is welcome to ring me for a chat.

  11. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Occasional commenter

    Though I would argue strongly that the staff-bullying culture prevalent in English state schools long pre-dates the whiz-kid/ess who dreamt up academies, it certainly is part of my analysis that attempting to remedy this situation by appealing to MPs/ Parliament for whom this sort of behaviour is, it would seem, almost second nature, is obviously pointless.

    And, as I think I posted, was presumably so throughout my career (sic).

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