Great education relies on great teachers. Great teachers require the support of an equitable society.
Unfortunately, this picture depicts the truth of our society. Many many children come from great homes, with one or two parents who give them the love, stability and boundaries they require to thrive. They also have aspirations. Sadly though, many children in our society today come from homes where this isn’t the case. Our society is not equitable. It never has been. Life isn’t fair!
Children don’t need much to thrive, but if one little part of the jigsaw is missing their life can be very chaotic. Now, the government would like to have everyone believe that if we simply give them all the same opportunities at school, it will do the job. Some people would have you believe that if we just did things the same way as Scandinavian countries, everything would be sorted. Both of these groups of people are wrong.
We live in our own society here. So we need an education system fitting the people of Great Britain, not simply a system that works for a vastly different society (like Finland, or Norway). We need something which crosses the boundaries of school and home, and gives the children who aren’t getting love, stability or boundaries at home whatever it is they’re missing. There are many ways to do that, and the last school I worked at did this particularly well, I think: caring for the whole child.
One thing that could help though, is the government trusting teachers and support staff to do the jobs they’ve been trained to do; to help the children that they know and care so much about. Instead of blaming teachers for a recruitment crisis, or thrusting yet more unwanted and unnecessary changes upon schools, or cutting the money schools so desperately need (in real terms), why can’t Nicky Morgan et al listen? Instead of pointing fingers at teachers and schools, why can’t they look at the whole picture? The whole picture is like that above… many things going on in a child’s life outside of school that mean they’re not achieving what they should in school. Why can’t they offer support, instead of chastisement?
Now, I’m not naïve. There are schools out there which really aren’t doing all they can. There are teachers who dislike children, and there are teachers who can’t teach very well. But I like to believe they are in an enormous minority. Don’t be fooled by Nicky Morgan. We already have a highly educated and well trained teaching body in the UK. We already have a well regarded qualification (QTS), which many schools across the world require their teachers to have. We already have people with passion for their subjects, and fire in their belly. We already have supportive local authorities, who can provide what struggling schools need to turn themselves around. We don’t need more unqualified teachers, and we certainly don’t need our education system privatising to the point of no return.
Our education system may not be perfect. It may not meet the needs of all the children in our broken society, but it has to be better than schools being run by external agents for profit. Do not believe Nicky Morgan when she says academies are the way forward. Do not believe her when she says she wants what is best for your children. Do not believe her at all.