Over 30 years, I taught in four comprehensive schools, and wrote key articles on testing, mixed-ability teaching and Chris Woodhead. I’ve written books on discipline, the national curriculum and New Labour’s education policy.
I wrote packs of materials for education while I was teaching, and have continued to write materials since I retired. Many of them are published by ZigZag. See Plays.
When I started teaching many of us believed that we should have a fair system which gave everybody’s children a decent education. We called it comprehensive; we didn’t call it bog standard. I still believe in that, but there’s only a handful of MPs who share my view. English education has always been about favouring small groups with special treatment, at the cost of everyone else.
The best teaching I saw, in every subject, was creative. It energised teachers, and encouraged pupils to develop their skills and their own ideas. The recent history of testing has set that cause back by years, and the failure to support teachers (especially young teachers) has been appalling.
Just after I retired, I gave up reading about education. But now I’ve got two grandchildren, and the kind of damage that’s being done is too big to ignore.
Gove was a disaster, but he’s only the latest in a long line of education ministers who think that their main job is to annouce initiatives and tell teachers where they go wrong.
It doesn’t have to be like this. Back in the 1960s Tony Crosland was a tough education minister, quite prepared to have political fights. But he knew the limits of his job:
“I didn’t regard either myself or my officials as in the slightest degree competent to interfere with the curriculum. We’re educational politicians and administrators, not professional educationists.”
Those were the days. When I just can’t help it, I’ll be commenting on current education in my blog Paulemic.
QUESTION: Has anyone, anywhere in the world, created a good education system by bullying teachers?