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The Scottish Education System - what's wrong with it ???

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by gnulinux, May 17, 2015.

  1. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    There is no doubt that teachers are profoundly unhappy with the state of the Scottish Education System. Feel free to list the problems - and there are many.
  2. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    I have two major gripes about our education system. One, the bureaucracy involved. Two, the utter complexity of our assessment process(es).

    Bureaucracy. The amount of paperwork that needs to be completed by teachers and pupils. At the end of each unit of work pupils and teachers have to complete a "log" several pages long. Fair enough if it's effective but it's not and it just gets filed anyway, never to be read again.. Then we have to copy pupils' targets into a spreadsheet so management have an overview of the BGE phase. This takes a minimum of half an hour per class, easily a whole hour sometimes. In my school (and council) this is currently working its way up to S5/6.

    In my school we are now being asked to "think about" how we teach LAC pupils, pupils for whom English is not their first language, "disadvantaged" pupils and much more. PS I don't know what "think about" means either.

    I could go on but it's really more of the same. I don't know about you but I came into teaching to, err, teach, and not to shuffle paperwork regularly. coming to a school near you soon.

    Assessment. Two years on and I'm still none the wiser if I'm marking my N4 AVs correctly yet. And the N5 NARs? 100% correct for this question but 50% for those questions etc for a pass? N4 internally assessed? See t'other thread.

    Has the introduction of CfE been worthwhile? In terms of time? In terms of money? In terms of effort? In terms of stress? In terms of what could have been done otherwise? A curriculum that makes pupils cry because they've studied their wee backsides off and they're still not sure if what they're doing is right? A curriculum that makes perfectly good hardworking teachers retire or change career? Nah, no way.
    xmal and micgbanks like this.
  3. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

    Quite simply don't do it if it's meaningless. Use the Tackling Bureacracy document to your advantage. If management insist - get them to put time on each activity required (all development plans should be time costed anyway). Once the time has ran out don't do any more - regardless of what management say. Teachers have to get into the habit of refusing to do meaningless paperwork and stuff that doesn't improve things.

    If you do more, you are quite simply expected to do more, so don't do it in the first place. Teachers are not admin assistants doing tick box checklists for managers.

    xmal and micgbanks like this.
  4. inthered

    inthered Occasional commenter

    No exam for N4 making the qualification meaningless; no exam leave for N4s who either vote with their feet or get punted into school to watch days of DVDs as nothing sensible sorted out for them; in my subject in both N5 and H actual teaching grinds to a halt before Xmas to kids can be trained to do the exam (vastly different from the assessments) and the Talking exam, and all the endless, endless assessments - a 1-term dash instead of a 2-term one. Dreadful.
    awizarsd49 likes this.
  5. Bensusan

    Bensusan New commenter

    I see this a lot regarding N4 but not sure I agree. Did you sit an exam for your teaching qualification? Did it make your qualification meaningless? Why is it meaningless for N4, but not for teaching qualification?
    Gavster77 likes this.
  6. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    Fair point but not directly comparable I'm afraid.

    There is political pressure for pupils to pass exams - there's not with higher education (am I right?).

    The teaching qualification assessments are judged by several lecturers over the course. N4 is judged by a single teacher who will be under pressure from their FH and SLT to pass as many pupils as possible so that the faculty and school looks good.

    I don't know what the verification process is for teacher training but surely it must be more rigorous than the SQA's is for schools? On the other hand, thinking of some of young teachers maybe not . . .

    In theory we should be able to trust teachers to pass or fail their own students. In practice it looks like most of us have 100% pass rates. N4 will continue to suffer credibility-wise until that is sorted.
    Educ84Math likes this.
  7. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    Effin, the bureaucracy is built into our WTA. Not enough time, mind you, but it is built in. Other depts in the school have a five minute ticky-box thing but my dept is actually adding to our assessment booklets - greasy pole climbers, Some of us have complained but we just get the WTA rammed down our throats, and colleagues claiming it takes no time at all.

    We are our own worst enemies, aren't we?

    Thanks, catmother, btw.
  8. sicilypat

    sicilypat New commenter

    I object to some management's unquestioning enthusiasm for every new part of this bureaucratic mess. The people in promoted positions often do not understand what they are being asked to do. Yet they demand compliance with their own distorted view of things, regardless of objections from staff.

    This is why bigjimmy2 will be asked to go through endless hoops in his school, which would be deemed unnecessary in other schools. And we are all intimidated by both management and by the fear of stepping out of line at a time when public sector jobs are being devalued and threatened.

    Yes, we are our worst enemies, but our unions should really be stronger too.
  9. morrisseyritual

    morrisseyritual Occasional commenter

    - A presumptuous ministerial body in ES and a capricious professional body in the GTCS.

    - A disjointed and vague curricular revamp

    - Revamp of qualifications uninformed by the aspirations of the curricular revamp.

    - No money so no training for teachers in new curriculum

    - Austerity measures further hobbling NQ course dev and implementation

    - Whimsical and subjective interpretation of new course implementation at individual school level.

    - An all but disenfranchised veteran teacher network that has encountered dignity at work issues and the seeding of a near culture of constructive dismissal - adapt-or-retire

    - An increasingly careerist and hypocritical school, local and governmental management network abdicating collegial responsibility in place of presiding over Emperor's New clothes educational policies and practices even further murdered from the original CfE documents.

    - A mauve "report" on tackling Bureacracy as insultingly hollow and verbose as the glossy green folder that begat all the schism, strife and indignity for pupils and teachers in the first place.

    - Establishment of GIRFEC while at the same time creating the nebulously unrewarding N4 qualifications which could potentially vocationally disenfranchise and educationally inhibit a generation in ways "only getting Foundation" never would have allowed.

    There's the start of an answer.
  10. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

    Your WTA agreement is for the benefit of all the staff, not for management and those aspiring to climb the greasy pole.

    If you are adding meaningless things to your processes a copy of the **** to your union rep or local JNC secretary can quite easily resolve things. It's amazing how people will back off when the words "union" are mentioned in terms of bureaucracy - particularly to those who are not SMT and haven't got a clue how a WTA works. You are there to teach kids not to support someone's career prospects.

    Stick to your guns big man. If we accept more meaningless work then it will just become the norm.
  11. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    Add to the above falling levels of numeracy and literacy meaning that Secondary pupils in particular are unable to properly access the Curriculum, which is itself shrinking as subjects disappear.

    The result of this is that pupil attainment is falling - fewer exams being passed.

    It is clear that the Scottish Education System is being slowly degraded. But who is being held to account for this???
  12. craigy77

    craigy77 New commenter

    I agree with much of the above.

    Whilst I agree that PGDE courses are not assessed by an exam, I think teenagers are VERY different from trainee teachers. They quite quickly feel like second class citizens when they realise that they are National 4 and some will leave school never having experienced an exam.

    Anyway, may I add to the list-

    * the introduction/extension of Faculty structures

    * the removal of APT as a stepping stone between Teacher and PT

    * the removal of Chartered Teacher

    * the pressure on staff to do more and more and more and more
  13. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    I have three pieces of advice:

    1. Stop using the term ?management? to denote anyone in a school. Doing so is to accept the language of the oppressor and undermine your own ability to think clearly.

    2. The union is the members, nothing more, nothing less.

    3. Don?t just share your woes here: act! We acted and we are getting results. I don?t do hope as it leads to disappointment, but, if the current Victorian government continues as it started, this state will be the world leader in education. Those who have not yet read my post on the results of acting may like to do so:

    xmal and louisecurly like this.
  14. Bensusan

    Bensusan New commenter

    i don't think it is as rigorous as imagined. Seen a few students who should not have passed become probationers.

    sounds more like a problem with how teachers are administering the assessments rather than a problem with the system of assessment. Reading how some are getting pupils through the assessments it's understandable why it's not credible
  15. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    And, indeed, teachers. There will always be some who pass teacher training who shouldn't have. Hopefully they will be found out during probation. No exam or assessment system is foolproof.

    No, more of a problem with pressure from above. Knowing your N4 class won't be monitored gives SLTs and FHs motivation to "pass" those pupils who haven't completed the course - knowing that they won't be found committing fraud. There's no adequate checks and balances to ensure that fraud does not take place. An external exam would provide a large degree of confidence that the qualification was valid.

    It's this problem of credibility versus no exam that colleagues have been pointing out even before the new exams were implemented. Personally, I see very little difference between the N4 clientele and those who took Int1/Access 3 - everyone knows they're poor qualifications.
  16. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    I would suggest the problems that exist in Scottish Education today - as elsewhere in the UK - are the result of successive governments believing that they know how to improve education when, in reality, what they are proposing is all too often highly speculative, aspirational and untested.

    In the face of justifiable scepticism from those who actually do the teaching, they have resorted to ever-increasing power and control to ensure their speculative vision is driven forward and is not seen to fail. Is it any surprise, then, that effective education for its own sake, based on years of experience and evidence, now seems of secondary importance to the control of education for political, economic and social purposes.

    Of course, it can be argued that successive governments have always used the education system to pursue their own political agenda. However, what I believe is different, in recent times, is the ever-increasing, micro-management of the school curriculum, particularly since about 2000.

    One key development was the introduction of Quality Improvement Officers, in place of former LA advisers, to carry out school reviews. Another was the development of the Scottish Qualification for Headship and its particular promotion of what constitutes 'effective leadership'. Thirdly, there was the creation of faculties in secondary schools which, in addition to saving money, was seen by some as a deliberate strategy to strengthen line-management and reduce the relative independence of PTs, and subject departments, in secondary schools.

    At the same time, there was the 'Journey to Excellence' agenda, which generated an abundance of pointless, box-ticking bureaucracy without actually contributing anything remotely excellent or beneficial to pupils. Then again, some would argue it is simply a control device and the real purpose is to keep teachers swamped in paperwork with little time, or energy, to resist further change.

    The question which, perhaps, needs to be asked is where are the checks and balances in the system to ensure an ill-thought out, centralised, state theory of learning does not cause irreparable damage to Scottish education, the future prospects of pupils and the morale of the teaching profession?

    That is where Education Scotland, and the school inspectorate, should be playing a positive role; after all, as an 'at arms length', state agency, they are supposed to be independent of government with a specific remit to maintain, and improve, standards in Scottish education. However, I for one can see very little evidence that they act in a way that is independent of government and recent evidence would seem to indicate that standards in literacy and numeracy are falling.

    Are Education Scotland, and the school inspectorate, therefore, actually part of the problem and, without them, schools would be freed from constant interference from external bodies, including the government. Indeed, a period of stability would almost certainly help them to consolidate and build on what actually works in the classroom?

    Furthermore, is there a case for education to be taken out of the party political arena altogether on the basis that a child, and young person's, education is too important, and time sensitive, to be disrupted by the vagaries of party politics and the career aspirations of education ministers?

    One only has to look to successful countries around the world to realise that there are other ways to ensure standards in schools without having a, less than effective, government controlled watchdog.

  17. inthered

    inthered Occasional commenter

    Hear hear, Fly.
  18. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    Yup, hear hear Fly! An excellent analysis.

    Could it not be argued that CfE was put in the hands of education experts who came up with this super-duper system and the governments - Labour, Lib/Lab and SNP - gave the go-ahead?

    At our DM tonight we learned we are going to have to change our Teacher Guides and Pupil Booklets (yes, I know) because, apparently "Experiences and Outcomes" are oldspeak. The newspeak is "Significant Aspects of Learning". Aka SALs. And, no, I'm not joking. More needless change.

    We spent most of the hour placing phrasecards on to big bits of paper with relevant Quality Indicators on it, trying to match things up. This will lead to our DIP, allegedly.

    I despair, I really do. I thought that if I didn't keep my concentration then I would just cry. Sounds a bit soft, I know but I actually did have that thought. I also thought of just walking out, saying "F u c k it, I've had enough of this educational bull s h I t, I'm off". That made me laugh, and the thought will be reconsidered as I approach retirement.
    Alice K and louisecurly like this.
  19. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

    As I've said already - Tackling Bureacracy document needs to be issued to your FH/PT. Instruct them to read it and the penny might drop.

    Changing teacher guides is clearly bureaucracy and refuse to do it. If some other mug wants to change things for the sake of changing things tell them to carry on

    Make time for teaching weans not paperwork.

    louisecurly likes this.
  20. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    Effin, I take your point and will circulate it tomorrow in my dept. But what will happen is we will be told, eg, that we don't track every single E&O or SAL so that's how they'll weasel their way out of it. I'll update you as and when but don't hold your breath.

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