Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Fifteen Steps


Contributed by tedioustantrums

The continuous political tinkering with the education system carries on a pace. There are good reasons for this of course, the current system no longer delivers the quality of output which employers require. Of course it may also be the case that the constant tinkering makes the problem worse. Change is expensive, constant change even more so.

The latest major change being considered is that of teachers’ employment. The McCormac Review, carried out for the Scottish Government, has just been produced and interested and involved parties are beginning to consider the contents. I’m not going to go through the contents and the responses since it’s a large document, which covers many topics. Instead of the political machinations lets try a bit of free thinking alternatives.

Let’s cut to the chase shall we? Discuss and develop the following –
  1. Remove all incompetent, mediocre and ineffective teachers on an on going basis to protect the education system and it’s customers (parents and pupils/students). The fact that they are employed by Local Authorities should not mean they have a job for life, they should have a job as long as they are competent and fulfil the criteria required to appropriately educate the pupils/students in their care.
  1. Stop training teachers in numbers, which almost guarantee they will take a very long time to find jobs. The present system is wasteful of people and money; it is not the number of teachers being trained that is important it is the quality of the teacher trained.
  1. Make it much, much, much easier for teachers to retire earlier than the government retirement age. Teachers have valuable experience and skills which must be exploited for pupils/students sake, however teachers who are no longer as enthusiastic or feel they have contributed as much as they can should be provided with an option to retire without financial penalty at a time of their choosing.
  1. Contractually require retiring teachers to mentor four new teachers per year for at least two/three years following retirement. Providing best practice support and advice to new teachers based on years of success should help new teachers become more effective more quickly.
  1. Ensure that teachers teach by removing all admin and providing support for planning and reporting aimed at maximising teacher to pupil/student time. This could also be a benefit in trying to ensure that all pupils receive teacher time rather than just the top and bottom groups in each class.
  1. Provide a teacher career path, which is financially rewarding and provides seniority levels for good teachers throughout their career. This would ensure teachers had aims for their own improvement based on delivering continuous improvements in pupil/student progress and results.
  1. Employ teachers who have the skills and talents to engage pupils/students rather than academics. Academic brilliance does not necessarily ensure good teaching skills; all teachers should know and be passionate about their subject beyond curriculum requirements.
  1. Do not promote teachers away from teaching; becoming an administrator/manager requires a different skillset. However, do not employ administrators/managers who are not driven to support teachers and education and the delivery of the best outcomes for pupils/students/parents/teachers and the wider school community.
  1. Reduce the number of Council Education Department Staff to the absolute minimum and divert all savings to teaching. Teaching has to be about teacher – pupil/student face to face time, everything else is secondary and the system of support should be lean and appropriate.
  1. Remove, or substantially reduce, the time and money wasted in adhering to regulatory preparation, adherence and reporting. Risk Assessments for outings for example should be carried out by administrators and made available to all schools. Health and safety etc. should be paired back to reflect reasonableness.
  1. Rethink the school year and develop a model, which is more flexible, does not set aside specific blocks of time for holidays and reflects our societal needs. It’s absurd that holidays are still based on archaic agricultural needs and religious celebrations and have start and finish times which are neither flexible nor reflect parents’ holiday flexibility. The main winners of the present system are holiday companies.
  1. Take politics, religion and fads out of the curriculum of schools, colleges and universities. Large blocks of time should not be set aside to teach pupils/students politically, religious or fashionably motivated non-subjects which detract from job related subjects.
  1. Subjects being taught should be prioritised on the basis of job market needs. These should be supplemented by external people being brought in to work, in partnership, with Teachers to deliver knowledge on the world of work. These people should be from a wide range of market activities, the arts, entertainment etc. etc..
  1. An internal market should be created in which all schools, colleges and universities can share teaching resources and expertise. This would dramatically reduce “re-inventing the wheel” which currently takes place on a huge scale. This would allow resources to be developed and sold to other educational establishments and would also encourage teachers to share more widely whilst, at the same time, their schools and themselves would benefit financially.

  2. Stability within Scottish Education should be pursued with vigour to allow consolidation and a longer-term development to take place at a pace which is sensible but which genuinely restores Scottish education to the higher end of world good education league tables. The reduction in continuous change would reduce costs and provide more time to teachers to actually teach.
As a country we already recognise the basic need for good education and a skilled and knowledgeable population and workforce. The Scottish Enlightenment was achieved on the back of a major drive to educate as many people as possible and to also encourage debate and opinion throughout Scotland (although some areas did not take part).

The SNP have broken one mould, here is an opportunity for them to break another. Think out of the box. Leave the Westminster way of doing things, way way behind. I won’t be holding my breath however.

The Scottish Government

10 comments:

English Pensioner said...

Too many go into teaching and later realise that they are unsuited for the job, but that their years of training don't leave them qualified for anything else. I know someone in this position who wants to leave but can't.

In the old days, teachers learnt on the job; it would be far better for them to start as teaching assistants, and then if they survived a couple of years, to study, perhaps part-time, to become a qualified teacher.
In the "good old days" (probably up to WW2), most teachers learnt their job as apprentices in the classroom, we should consider reverting to this approach.

Sheila said...

Regardless of which variety of politicians we have "in power" UNESCO's global "education" machine will rumble on regardless.

http://vw.ltscotland.org.uk/Images/WhyGlobalCitizenship_tcm4-633130.pdf

"An international imperative

Curriculum for Excellence is transforming learning to prepare young people for the social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century. This process is part of an international project: the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence mirror UNESCO’s ‘Four Pillars’ of education: learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together (Learning: the Treasure Within’ UNESCO 1996). Globalisation means that young people are more interdependent and connected than ever before. This reality should be reflected in educational establishments on a daily basis. This will equip young people with the skills, knowledge and attributes that will enable them to live, learn and work successfully and confidently, act as responsible citizens and contribute to creating a sustainable and equitable future for all."

petem130 said...

Hi EP. I'm all for a longer learning timescale and experience gained whilst doing the job along with an excellent teacher with a proven record of delivery.

The present system is far from ideal.

petem130 said...

Hi Sheila.
It would be a tragedy if the SNP carried the type of strategy, you highlighted forward. Independence would become words and nothing more.

Our children deserve better than these fanciful UN aims. I can't remember the UN achieving much at all. If they wish to tackle education I'd suggest they concentrate on the areas of the world where education is not an automatic right for all children.

Thanks you very much for your comment.

Sheila said...

Hi Petem

As it happens I found an article in today's Scotsman which is highly relevant when you look into the background...

http://www.home-education.biz/forum/media/13957-graham-leicester-excellence-requires-vision-and-courage.html#post51945

You might also find this blogpost interesting if depressing:

http://www.4liberty.org.uk/2011/04/26/the-world-core-curriculum-and-your-children/

(I'm the second last comment)

I desperately wanted to dismiss some of the whackier information in that post but I'm afraid everything I've looked into has checked out.

Anon said...

A lot of very good points in the McCormac Review - eg "Reduce the number of Council Education Department Staff."

I would like to see Education Departments closed down completely.

I would also like to reduce the school leaving age.

We also need to change the 'culture' of the country.

I see too many scared looking babies and toddlers with sick looking parents who look as if they are on drugs.

The typical mother seems to be a skinny girl, covered in tatoos, completely oblivious to the miserable state of her child.

The typical school girl dresses like a prostitute.

- Aangirfan

petem130 said...

Thanks Sheila I'll give those links a look.

petem130 said...

It was my hope that a completely new Scottish Government would be brave enough to consider all the ways that things have been done to be up for discussion and change and improvement.

Sadly as time slips by it looks like it's just more of the same. Gullible I guess you'd be thinking? Probably. But you have to hope and believe in the possibilities of change. Staying positive is another story.

Sheila said...

My hope too Petem. I swithered about voting at all and then voted SNP...so if you're gullible I am too :(

Now all I see is the same stuff that was stalled because Labour didn't have a majority preparing to whizz through. Ho Hum...

Nixon said...
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