Friday, 4 March 2016

New Statesman letter

For people like me, who spent their lives teaching white working-class pupils, the facts that social mobility in the UK "seems to have come to a halt", and an "insecure labour market" is reducing optimism, are particularly galling (The struggle of white working-class children, 26th February,2016). The wording, however, of many reports of schools` problems does not help, and even Tim Wigmore`s argument, where the omission of the word "some" is frequent, is weakened as a result. Of course, there is under-achievement, but not all white working-class "flounder at school", and to suggest otherwise undermines much brilliant work being done by pupils and staff in many schools, often in "challenging" circumstances.
 Wigmore is not alone, and the worst culprit should certainlyknow better: only recently, the Ofsted chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, reported that three in ten Manchester secondary schools are judged to be "inadequate, or require improvement", whilst in Liverpool, the figures are four in ten. His exaggerated and unnecessary conclusion was that this poses a real risk to the so-called, and so far non-existent, northern powerhouse.
    What about the pupils in the more successful schools? What about the successful pupils in the low achieving schools? How are the poor teachers meant to feel, when faced with constant and unfair criticism? No wonder there`s a recruitment crisis in the profession! The sooner Wilshaw goes, and the sooner the achievements of working-class pupils and their teachers are properly acknowledged, the better!

   Of course, "improving job prospects" in some areas would help. How about moving parliament to Kirkby?

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