Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Tories` joined-up thinking and "born again teachers"

If the Teaching Excellence Framework is any sort of guide to the way this country is going to be ruled under May`s administration, the country is in for a hard time (Vice-chancellors and students plan boycott of flagship teaching rankings,22/11/16). Expecting students to report accurately on the quality of teaching, when good scores will enable universities to raise tuition fees even higher, does not suggest there is much joined-up thinking occurring at the government department responsible. Jo Johnson might well think that the information will give future students "clear, understandable information about where the best teaching is on offer", but many will disagree. How can the quality of teaching be determined in part by the number of graduates getting appropriate jobs, or the number of students dropping out before completing thrir course? Indeed, the number who leave early because of poor teaching must be miniscule.
    Universities having the nerve to complain about the Framework, and their insistence. like that of Oxford, that it places "the quality of teaching at the heart of what it does", when the Guardian recently reported that "more than half of academics in Britain`s universites" are employed on insecure contracts, and are members of the "just about managing" class, beggar belief  (Work has been transformed. The law needs to keep up,17/11/16)!

 Gaby Hinsliff is undoubtedly correct: the "born again teachers" may find "being useful harder than it looks" (The golden generation should enjoy the luxury of being useful while it can, 25/11/16). Lucy Kellaway will almost certainly find that, after a day teaching maths "in an inner-city comp", she will have neither the time nor energy to "focus" on her organisation to encourage bankers and accountants "to round off their careers in the classroom". 
     A far better idea would be for the "jaded 50- somethings" to become teaching assistants; still very demanding and socially-useful, but without the extra burden of lesson preparation, marking and report writing. At least, the drop-out rate would be significantly lower!
       The shame of this is that the "socially-useful" aspect of the career should come so late. How different our society would be if the politicians, financial wizz-kids and such like, had been forced to spend a year working in schools, hospitals or care-homes as part of their degree courses.

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