Grumpy head rants

Grumpy new head

 …Then we recruit the ‘brightest’ trainees, make the starting salary comparable with doctors to encourage the gifted students to consider teaching as a career, rather than the fall back that it has become…

 Ok, so perhaps I’m not in the greatest frame of mind at present, and I fear this may turn into some kind of rant. If it does, I shall delete it and no one will ever read this.  Why have I even written that? If a tree falls in a wood…

 We’ve just had half-term. October half-term is the first milestone, the first one that you can ‘tick off’ (although some people count ‘getty ups’ from September the 1st –they are idiots!) A chance to re charge and rest…

 Not me, off on a tour of the country, catching up with old friends and seeing the sights down south. Without wanting this to become ‘what I did on my holidays’ I’ll cut to the chase. One lovely day was spent with friends at Marwell zoo, a great place to visit with bairns (look it up in your Geordie dictionary.) In between the usual catch up, the usual banter, and the usual nonsense that only blokes can talk (“I wonder what these animals taste like..?”) We got on to our respective jobs, myself: a ‘new head’ and he a newish head.  Me in a smallish primary, he in a ‘special school’. Our thoughts on education as a whole and the problems faced were largely congruent, and we swapped war stories (his more impressive than mine, I must say.)

 As we left I wondered how, two minds, hundreds of miles apart, in different settings, could have exactly the same philosophy about teaching, yet be exactly at odds with the powers that be.  It seems strange that without contact for around four years, we have formed identical beliefs, values and determinations.  None of which are echoed by current departmental policy or guidelines. Odd.

 In the car I received a text, expressing that he was surprised that I wasn’t on Twitter, he’d searched using my full name, and I go with @skychaserhigh79 (wildhearts’ song).  Having sorted this out the mutual following was sorted. This is when I realised how underused my twitter account is, JO’B is a prolific tweeter and has a host of followers and followees. Where I get frustrated by the character limit, and am unable to express myself in so few characters (see previous blogs for confirmation) he is able to put across points clearly and succinctly. The epiphany was, however, that twitter really can be used as a tool for teachers (sorry Ben, I didn’t believe you.)  I have read articles I would never have found, discovered a plethora of like-minded ‘educators’ and been retweeted by Alan Peat!  I still find it difficult to ‘tweet’ myself, but I am enjoying the sense that perhaps all isn’t doomed after all. The #qtsdebate thread was brilliant.  I was mad at first, furious, I’d even spouted the lazy clichés of visiting unqualified dentists and the like, however, to find so many people that were equally incensed calmed me somewhat.  I was easily, in fact, able to revert to my default position of filing the idea away under ‘stupid stuff’ in my brain and continue as usual.

 Because that is what it is. It may well be allowed to appoint unqualified teachers, but seriously, who actually will?  I certainly won’t.  My school will employ qualified staff as long as I am at the helm. My school. My rules.  Who is going to sift through application forms and seriously consider an unqualified teacher opposed to one who has trained and theoretically has a much sounder pedagogical grasp of things? Only a baboon.

 Now there will be exceptions, of course. I know qualified teachers that are useless, I am sure that there are ‘enthusiastic and passionate’ people who will be able to teach very well, but I would be willing to bet (and seeing as there is no way of proving this) parts of my anatomy, that in both cases the percentages are fairly small.

 Being enthusiastic about something does not make you good at it. We only need to delve into the education secretary’s bag o’ blunders to see this.  ‘All schools better than average…’ for example.  Mouth first, brain second. Enthusiastic about education, but little grasp of statistical maths.

 What compounds this further is recent reports that the ‘skills tests’ should be harder.  Err, I have an idea, why not make those skills tests we already have more relevant.  No one can teach without GCSE maths and English at grade B+ and three decent C+ A levels.  Then we recruit the ‘brightest’ trainees, make the starting salary comparable with doctors to encourage the gifted students to consider teaching as a career, rather than the fall back that it has become. Training should take at least three years to complete and be rigorous and stringent. 

 Bright, educated, qualified students + three years of training + financial security = better teachers than enthusiasm + I’ll have a do.

 I know plenty of fantastic PGCE, SCITT, GTP teachers, I really do.  I am not in any way doubting their dedication, hard work, skill or talent.  Not. At. All. (every time I raise this argument, someone in the room only listens to part of what I am saying and humphs ‘well I did PGCE, does that mean you think I’m rubbish?’)

 Things need to change and if we want to increase the quality of teaching across the country, does it not make sense to improve the training?  Indeed if your SIA feels something needs improving in your school do they suggest some whole school training or that you all become more enthusiastic about it?  Think about year three ‘enthusiastic writers’ do we just let them get on with it, or should we try to teach them (train them) that, really, a few full stops or commas would make their enthusiasm even more effective?

 Must go, I’ve written this with enthusiasm and not checked it at all, any grammatical or spelling mistakes are therefore Ben’s fault.  Any remarks that caused offence are meant to be flippant and tongue-in-cheek, and remarks that you think are interesting/amusing are mine.

Last thing, follow @jarlathOBrien he is well more betterer than me.

Mr Arthur 

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