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Discussion in 'Scotland - curriculum' started by u16ss6, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. When education becomes everything it ceases to be education[/b]

    As an early career teacher I have seen a lot of changes in the profession already. I entered the profession in 2010, completed my training through the introduction of A Curriculum for Excellence and have since witnessed the change in child protection protocol through the implementation of GIRFEC and the recent Children and Young People’s Bill.

    Within this time of change there have been numerous teacher strikes in the UK with calls for more ‘action’ by December 2014, all but one have been due to disputes over teacher pay and conditions.

    Although the job is changing constantly the profession seems not to mind as long as pay and pensions meet their standards. Surely the title ‘profession’ suggests that teachers would debate the key moral, ethical and learning issues before pay and conditions. Certainly, the Standard for Teaching states ‘Teachers working with this standard are expected to develop deep, critically informed knowledge and understanding to enhance skills and abilities in relation to the key areas of career-long professional learning:

    Educational contexts and current debates in policy, education and practice.’ They must ‘actively consider and critically question the development(s) of policy in education… develop and apply political literacy and political insight in relation to professional practice, educational change and policy development.’ (GTCS Standard for Career Long Professional Learning).

    Individually we may do that in staff rooms but as a profession we do not. The GTCS has no statement of position about the recent Children and Young People’s Bill, which has been met with fierce opposition from home education groups, children’s charities and most importantly the Parent Council Association of Scotland.

    The Children and Young People Bill puts GIRFEC policy into law. It means that teachers will be legally obliged to share personal and sensitive data about all children in their care with health professionals, police and social workers amongst others. We will be required to assess ‘each and every’ child’s wellbeing (surely this is harder than assessing progress against the CfE outcomes?) as well as assess families’ ability to support, care for and interact with their children. We must, by law, share this information with other professionals; and are being actively encouraged to do so without parental consent., ‘there is no requirement to seek consent’(A Practitioner’s Guide to information sharing, confidentiality and consent to support children and young people's wellbeing ). Indeed at least one Local Authority goes onto say that if parental consent is sought and refused then,

    If consent is refused, this could be considered as a factor in the overall assessment of risk. (http://www.pkc.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=7788&p=0); meaning that all parental rights can be overruled by GIRFEC and the Named Person.

    The opposition to this bill, which has lodged formal legal papers in the Court of Session inEdinburghinitiating a Judicial Review of the Named Person provision, is concerned that the bill undermines all parental rights and responsibilities, resulting in further breakdown of families and gives more duties and responsibilities to the state.

    “When education becomes everything it ceases to be education. Education needs to be saved from those who want to turn it into an all-purpose institution for solving the problems of society.” (Furedi, 2009, p6)

    Not only does this add considerable duties on our lap, which a previous TES article has highlighted concerns with (https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6296443) but changes our job from teacher to social worker. Does this mean that any terrible disaster in child protection will now lie at our profession’s feet? Will society blame teachers more so than they do now? In light of the recent Ashya King case, do we want to be the profession forcing treatments on families and preventing them from seeking what they think is best for their child?

    The most important issue for our profession, I believe, is that the introduction of the Children and Young People bill completely changes the bedrock of our profession: parental trust in us. Parents trust us with the most precious things in their lives; their children. If parents’ are suspicious of our intent or actions with these precious gifts then we will fail. If parents suspect us of information sharing without their consent, they will stop sharing information with us. They will remove their children from our care, as has happened in the Local Authority that piloted the Named Person Provision and in the Isle of Mann which introduced a similar approach.

    The main teacher union inScotland, the EIS, say this regarding the recently passed Children and Young People’s Bill,

    ‘The EIS is generally supportive of this proposal but recognises that more work requires to be done in this area at present to enable a consistent approach across the country.’ and then calls for further funding, ‘If as a society we are to improve children’s wellbeing, then as a society we must ensure that the necessary resources are available when required. These must include necessary levels of staffing to deliver education, opportunities for professional development for staff, time for

    collaboration and specialist provision. ‘ (http://www.eis.org.uk/images/education/consultations/final%20eis%20response%20to%20c&yp%20bill%20consultation%20september%202012.pdf )

    Again it seems that as a profession we are happy to change our role, responsibilities and ethics as long as we have the standard of pay and conditions meets our aims. Will we only strike over a slight 1% pay increase rather than erosion of family rights and responsibilities and the continued erosion of the integrity, wisdom and ethics of our profession?

    I lament the death of the profession. Rest in peace educators.

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