Friday, 24 October 2014

Tristram`s time is up

     Tory nonsense on education, without any thought of implication or even practicalities, is bad enough; 1500 super teachers forming a "National Teacher Service" would leave 1500 teacher places to be filled, presumably by applicants with less expertise! But similar knee-jerk responses from Labour, seemingly still refusing to accept the  fact that excellent work is being done in state schools all over the country, every day, cannot be acceptable. Following Tristram`s well-publicised soundbite of aiming to have a "world class teacher in every classroom", a remark clearly made without any thought about training, experience, expertise and knowledge, we hear about the oath! For goodness sakes,  how an oath can be "part of a commitment to professional development" beggars belief, when it is so insulting to tens of thousands of conscientious and committed teachers. This is not the first time Hunt has shown his ignorance of the state school system and its work and success; enough is enough! Not only is he an embarrassment, he is now a liability, the reason why so many teachers are losing faith in Labour. 
     His appointment was dubious from the start. Able to match Gove at the dispatch box, perhaps, but only by attempting to out-Gove him rather than argue against Goveism, Hunt has made a viable case against unqualified teachers, but other policies have been little other than disastrous. Privately educated and with opinions on state education based on accepting government propaganda and watching television programmes highlighting bad behaviour, he has made no effort to win back teachers` support.
    His support for Performance Related Pay for teachers revealed ignorance of how children learn and achieve. For example, is the teacher who taught a sixth form history group, which achieved 10A*s, necessarily the person who inspired the students` interest and ambition, or the teacher who improved their literacy and analytical skills, or even the teacher who taught them at GCSE and enabled the advanced study to take place?
     Given the number of internal and external inspections in schools, Hunt`s idea for the re-licensing of teachers not only was unnecessary, it would actually add to the administrative burden in schools.
     Similarly, his analysis of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission`s report was flawed. The report did not show that "the coalition was failing on social mobility". On the contrary, a government which, immediately on coming to power, scraps Education Maintenance Allowances, then triples university fees, passes school assessment reforms which disadvantage children from poorer homes, cuts funding for Sure Start Centres and libraries, and appoints the majority of its Cabinet from the likes of Eton and the Bullingdon club, has succeeded in achieving its objective. As the Report says, this "social engineering" has created the "elitism so embedded in Britain today".
           Then there was the crossing of a picket line of outsourced and underpaid university workers and the outrageous suggestion that "character and resilience" were only the product of private schools! Anyone with knowledge and experience in a state school would know that state pupils display the ability to "bounce back from setbacks" by the bucket-load, and show resilience in the face of assessment "goalposts" being constantly moved, and their excellent examination results being criticised by politicians from all parties. Then there`s the Education Maintenance Allowance being removed, 6th form courses dropped because of lack of government funding, university fees being hiked, and the preference shown by so-called top universities for students from private schools. If some lack the confidence of their wealthier peers, it will hardly be a surprise, but Hunt`s implication that private schools "teach" character and resilience better smacks of a combination of bias and ignorance.
    Did he speak in favour of the industrial action taken by teachers recently? Will he even send his own children to state schools? When asked about this, his reply, "Never rule out what takes place", reeked of obfuscation at its best!
       At the helm of education in a Labour government has to be a state-educated person , who can empathise with the teaching profession, and discuss with union representatives the best ways of solving problems. His recent conference speech, according to one teachers` union leader said "nothing"! Hunt`s failure to promise a wholesale repeal of Gove`s changes indicates it`s time for change! He is an embarrassment to the thousands of hard-working teachers who do not need an oath to prove their dedication to their jobs or their pupils; he could even cost Labour the election! Moving him sideways now would tick a number of boxes, and perhaps rescue Labour`s hopes of attracting the teacher vote; replacing him with someone more attune to the needs of the teaching profession would be a sensible move by a leader too often criticised for his indecision.



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