Continuing from my letter from the last day, here is part 2…
Instead, in the UK, schools are restricted by regulations, standards, targets and appraisals which are designed to give a uniform approach to learning, no matter the background of the school or child.
Their Education Secretary is Michael Gove, as I am sure you aware. On the Thursday, he announced some news about the changes he will be making. It is not quite clear why he is making these changes but what he wanted to do is very clear.
He is shortening the time that a teacher can be fired. Previously, it could take a year to eject an under performing teacher. Now, it will take 9 weeks. He will base this appraisal system on the results of the children in the SATS. He is basing this appraisal on the things he should be. Like teacher quality, professional development and reflection.
No, instead, he wants the head teacher to appraise teachers based on test results and targets set by a uniform and bland set of standards. If the teacher is unable to get the required results, they will be handed a certificate of capability and they will be let go.
This certificate of capability will be linked with the teacher’s teaching council registration and has to be handed to every future employer. This effectively means that once a teacher is let go from a school, their teaching career is over. This is a complete waste of resources and training teachers up for years. It is a complete focus on the industrial, factory management style. It also leaves the door wide open for abuse, for example, a principal who might not like the teacher or her style of teaching.
He also wants parents to be allowed into the classroom to assess teacher’s performance. This is a clear undermining of the teaching profession and one that comes under the definition of bullying at work. Imagine if a brain surgeon was being assessed under criteria by the patients brother. Imagine then if the surgeon was cautioned under this person’s assessment. Imagine if this formed part of the appraisal system. It does sound bizarre but this is exactly what Gove is looking for.
He also wants to extend the teaching day. He suggests 7:30-5:30. He suggests opening schools on a Saturday. He suggests schools being open all year around. When questioned on this, he answered that if teachers loved their job, then they should be delighted with this opportunity he was offering them. He hasn’t even considered if children would be able for this or the financial implications.
He ranted further about sorting teachers out, getting those “stressed” teachers back into work or firing them. He seemed like a very angry man intent on revenge.
Tune in in 4 days for the final part of my open letter to Ruairi Quinn. Remember, feel free to comment below.