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Monday, 16 May 2016

So here's the thing, High Court judges ........

A father has won an appeal in the High Court against a fine for taking his children out of school during term time.  Let's forget the chaos caused to education if the 30 parents of children in one class take the children out of school at different times in addition to generous holiday dates.  Let's forget the arrant nonsense of school holidays being  controlled by the old 'harvest time' and remember these are kids and a full year at school is too much for a young mind.  Let's forget the stupidity of assuming that teachers are lazy and want long holidays.  Only the intellectually moribund would not recognise that teachers work far more hours in a week than most of the parents, and are confined to the tourist industries greed in overcharging for school holidays themselves.

For once let's look at the facts.

Children are required by law to attend school 190 days of the year.  Teachers, laughingly, are required to work 195 days of the year which is a nonsense since teachers work through the holidays.

The child had a 90% attendance before being taken out of school, so has attended for 171 days.  Let's be generous and say that the child was only out of school for 5 days to go on the term-time trip.  That means the child's attendance is now 166 days which is 87.368%.  This does not take into account any future genuine absences such as for medical or family bereavement.

In my days as a manager in industry, the schools provided the first employment reference for the school-leaver including attendance record.  Would I employ a school-leaver who only turns up for 87% of the time? No of course not, there are too many available students with a 90-100% attendance record.  Would I employ a school-leaver who has a D in maths because the individual missed the start of new topics all through the school year?  No of course not, there are too many available students with GCSEs at A* to C.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The chaos of politics in education.

The events of today are a real conundrum for me.  I oppose children being taken out of school during the school term, to the extent that I would not strike to prevent a child from accessing education even for one day. However, parents seem to be keeping their children off school today in protest at the upcoming SATs tests and various campaign groups have chipped in with their two penny worth.  My view is that the parents have a point and that SATs are all about political point scoring.  It is alleged by ministers that SATs show progress and improvement.  But in fact, it makes no measurable difference to the individual child.  After all, where is the empirical evidence that an individual child has benefited in any way from being tested at the age of six?

Education Minister Nick Gibb says that tests improve standards.  How? The other Nicky, Morgan, says that raising standards will improve  creativity.  How? The fact is so much pressure is put on schools to produce 'results' and show improvement year after year that teaching creatively is abandoned to teaching to tests.  No wonder children are actually saying that they can't cope.  Even Chris McGivern of the Campaign for Real Education has jumped on the bandwagon by saying that British children are three years behind the Chinese at the age of fifteen.  My question to the Campaign for Real Education is "So what?".

The important question is how British children succeed compared with Chinese students after that time.  We do not produce drones that follow party policy but innovative individuals.  The British have and continue to develop inspiring technological and cultural creativity, as opposed to cloning other people's ideas.

It is the time that teachers be allowed to use their judgement and personal knowledge of the child to determine where that child should be set upon the transition from primary to secondary education, and secondary teachers should be more proactive in moving those children between sets as required.

Perhaps the answer is to get the politicians and think-tanks out of education.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Our children's education should not be a political football!

Every UK government administration feels the need to interfere with our children's future by tinkering with the education system.  Within that period between general elections, the unqualified Secretaries of State are changed on a regular basis.  The interference seems to be dictated by the desire to 'out do' the previous government or to make our kids the clones of Chinese, Scandanavian or US students.  But in my travels children are the same the world over, some will want to learn, some will not.  Of course, in some areas improvements can be made both in the UK and globally but the best teaching comes from teachers who are allowed to use their own initiative and innovation.  My own career proved to me that schools that are not afraid to experiment and innovate produce the best results and then share that best practice with other local schools.

The advent of multi-academy chains have choked off innovation and tied the hands of Headteachers and staff.  The senior (well paid) managers in the academy chains, if educators at all, are classroom deficient in modern techniques and impose outdated and discredited policies and procedures.

I can quite understand Jeremy Gargan, the Headteacher of Aycliffe Village Primary School's decision to resign in protest at forced academisation.  His decision proves what a great teacher he is and will be a loss to the profession.

So what do we do?  My personal opinion is that government and the civil service should be removed from the equation and education within England and Wales (Scotland and N. Ireland do their own thing anyway) and hand the responsibility to an Education Trust comprising real educators and non-education related business leaders.  It is a well known strategic strategy that a paradigm shift is more effective than 'tinkering' strategies, so let's make that huge change now before even more damage is done to our young generation, teacher morale and results.

Headteacher resignation over forced academisation

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

I refer the Honourable Lady to my previous answer

The intention by Government to force all schools to become Academies would be a good one if the Academies were in small clusters supported by an outstanding school.  But by encouraging even bigger Academy Trusts all that is happening is the transfer of schools from Local Authorities to a privatised authority, with all the risks that entails.  The money that small clusters could use to improve their schools will be used up, out-of-area, by monolithic education corporation's infrastructure, high director salaries and contingency hoarding.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Here we go again. Time to reduce academy chains to clusters of three schools.

An academy chain has been accused by Ofsted inspectors of not making enough progress, with warnings the quality of education for too many pupils is "not good enough".
The E-Act trust runs 23 academies across England and the Ofsted report says pupils from "poor backgrounds do not do well enough" in its schools.
Last month the academy chain scrapped all its local governing bodies.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

AET Failure?

This post is not a "told you so", but I have made my views known publically, and in my resignation feedback, that Greensward, Maltings and New Rickstones opportunities have been squandered by an over-inflated, over-managed, monolith that dictates top down policies, instead of the highly successful classroom innovations of Greensward that shared best practice up the chain of command.

Once again I call on the three original academies to retrieve the Greensward Charitable Trust from being the vehicle that gives charity status to the AET and go it alone. This is about the children and not overpaid egos.


Monday, 25 January 2016

Academies to scrap Governing Bodies

The independence of Academy chains seems to permit them to scrap their locally appointed school governors, and in the words of the academy chain, E-Act, replace them with 'academy ambassadorial advisory bodies'.  What the heck is one of those?

The Academy structure was a brilliant idea that actually worked well in its initial form.  Outstanding successful schools and staff shared best practice and procedures with local schools needing improvement.  But now, the so-called 'not for profit' (but 'yes to high salaries for managers') organisations now run huge chains of schools in widely differing geographical areas.  So the 'shared best practice' is now top down from out of touch monoliths without the initiatives formed at a classroom level.

In fact, what has been achieved are a series of mini-education authorities that are not even 'local', and they syphon off their overheads and vast paycheques from the money that should have gone directly to the school.  By running schools north, south, east and west, the best interests of the community are no longer addressed.  In addition, the ability of Advanced Skills teachers to pop down to a nearby school to assist, train and support their colleagues has now disappeared.  I, for one, enjoyed visits from my local colleagues who were welcome to come into my classroom at anytime to see for themselves, and for me to visit them, which was a mutually beneficial experience.

In summary, I believe that academy chains have run their course, and before they do any more damage they should be broken up, with two or three local academies being clustered into academy support groups.  Each academy to have its own Governing Body comprising parent and staff elected  governors and a sprinkling of 'public appointees' who have expertise in the areas of finance, human resources, and fund-raising.  An overseeing Cluster Governor Board comprising three governors from each school can monitor 'key performance indicators' and make suggestions and add support where needed.

It is time education in this country was finally changed for the better ,and not by Education Secretaries who have been solicitors (present incumbent), journalists (Gove), economics journalist (Kelly), postman (Johnson), a student in Cuba before only politics (Charles Clarke), and a lecturer in industrial relations (Blunkett).  This is not to decry the professions they did follow, but I ask you, to run education for England?  Honestly?