Wednesday 30 March 2016

The Alternative to OFSTED

Our accountability system is broken. It provides no real accountability to local parents, those parents who will lose their right to be involved in governing their children’s schools due to this government’s reforms. And at the same time, it gives little or no freedom to teachers to exercise their professional judgement.

I expect everyone reading this has stories of the impact of OFSTED on their local schools. I want to share just two local examples because to me they highlight where this madness leads.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Children Are More Than a Score

We’ve heard about the damage that high-stakes standardised testing is doing to our children’s education. We’ve heard about the impact it has on their self-esteem, on their mental health. So there’s a pretty obvious question to be asked.

Why, when the weight of educational research is against them, when the mass of parents are against them and when the professional judgement of teachers is against them, why would this government continue in its dogmatic obsession with standardised testing?

Thursday 17 March 2016

National Executive Report

The General Secretary reported on the excellent response to the sixth form strike and the landmark case the Union won in the High Court. This centred on the government's attempt to get an injunction to prevent the strike. Their argument was that a strike over funding was a political strike (which is illegal under our repressive anti-union laws) and not a legitimate trade dispute.

The Union successfully argued that, because funding allocations from government have a direct impact on our members' terms and conditions by constricting the employers' room to negotiate. This judgement sets an important precedent for Unions fighting government funding cuts and the politics of austerity.

Comprehensive Education in Guernsey

The National Executive, meeting this afternoon, welcomed the news that Guernsey had taken the decision to abolish the 11-plus and convert all schools on the island to comprehensives. This shows that, even in the most difficult of times, we can win significant victories that benefit our students.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

A Crucial Time for Education

As I prepare to travel to London for the National Executive today and tomorrow, I am struck by what a crucial time this is for education.

We have a government using a mantra of austerity to progressively underfund schools and sixth form colleges, whilst enforcing the mass privatisation of schools by an act of parliament, and changing the very nature of education through high-stakes standardised testing and hyper-accountability. The past couple of months have shown this in the extreme. At primary level, we have seen new assessments introduced which impose unrealistic and unhelpful targets on young children in a narrow range of skills. What is more, children will be expected to sit these tests in a couple of months, leaving teachers wondering how they will explain to children and their parents that they are no longer doing well but are now below 'national expectations' - that the government has arbitrarily deemed their child a failure aged 7 or 11.