Thankfully Education Secretary Michael Gove has the answers. More inspection without notice. Free Schools. Academies. Synthetic phonics. Schools forced to be taken over by companies if they “fail”.
To many in the Conservative Party and much of the press Gove is a hero. Taking on the “enemies of promise” and vested interest in the unions who want children to fail.
Here is an example from the Daily Mail on Monday who have quite possibly the most ridiculous headline I have ever read “The National Association of Headteachers undertake an evil conspiracy to create an illiterate Britain”. The author of the piece seems to feel the need to prove the point with a very badly written article!
Let’s look at that headline again. What it is suggesting is that the Headteacher of your local primary school - who has probably spent most of his or her life teaching small children - does not want children to learn to read and write. In fact they are engaged in some kind of deliberate political “conspiracy” to prevent them...
It’s hard to imagine anything more completely absurd but this kind of article is becoming more and more common.
What I find really interesting though is that the Government and its media supporters do not appear to have bothered to ask parents what they think of the schools their children attend. The NAHT recently commissioned some market research to do just this and the results were interesting.
The survey (that you can see in full below) shows overwhelming support from parents for their schools:
- 86% of parents say their children can read as well or better than they did at 11 (with 37% of these saying better)
- 71% of parents say they are more involved in their children’s education than their parents were in theirs
- 90% are impressed by behaviour when they visit the school
- 93% feel welcome when they visit the school
- 85% say teaching is good or outstanding
- 78% say the school is good or outstanding at treating their child as an individual
- 75% think their children have better educational opportunities than they did
- 81% of parents have read Ofsted reports
- Only 31% of parents agree that Ofsted offers “clear and unbiased judgements on schools”
- 51% think that they give some useful information but “do not tell the whole story”
In particular parents feel Ofsted is only giving them part of the picture, I expect this is due to its obsession with results to the exclusion of all else. Parents know the difference between a school that is doing as well as it can and one that is coasting but does Ofsted?
So either journalists and politicians know better than parents or the whole premise of this Government’s education policy is seriously flawed.
The author of the Mail article and his colleagues and Government ministers should be ashamed of themselves. They are pursuing an ideological attack on your child's and my child’s teachers.
They are dong this to explain why they are breaking something that overwhelmingly does not need fixing - our education system.
Of course there are some teachers are poor and some schools too. These need to improve. This can and should be done by evolution in the system not a revolution that takes down the overwhelming majority of good schools to deal with the tiny minority of poor ones.
You can read the full NAHT survey results below:
NAHT Parent Survey Findings