Education, education, education
So this is the post where I kill the comments by talking about UK politics. But hell, I never wanted to be popular anyway! Let me introduce you to David Cameron.
For those of you who don’t know David Cameron (and quite frankly why the hell should you?) he is the UK version of Obama…..well apart from he is not black….nor cool……nor a Democrat…..nor even vaguely likeable. But why worry about details? David is apparently the “wind of change” blowing through UK politics and likely, many believe, to be the next Prime Minister. So those of you in the US, will probably see his airbrushed image over there pretty soon.
Yesterday dear little David set out his view on teachers and schools to much fanfare and excitement. As far as I can understand it, the policy is “sack the current crap teachers and recruit lots of bright shiny new ones”. Which of course, on the face of it, sounds like a plan doesn’t it? I mean in all of our businesses, if we could get rid of the poor performers and recruit really good people….then our lives would all be better right? And of course to soften the blow they mentioned that they would help the crap teachers to “move to jobs to which they might better be suited”. I don’t know when the last time Davey C was in a school, but I was in one this morning and I can tell you there wasn’t an abundance of non-teaching jobs ready to be filled.
But the thing that really got my goat on the whole of this, was their assertion that they would pay off the student debt for those that applied to be teachers with a good degree from a “good University”. They said the number of “good Universities would be in the “low dozens”. Which basically rules out most of them. Now there are three points to this, first there is a class issue. Second there is a skills and aptitude issue. Finally there is an economic argument.
Here is a statistic for you, there are more pupils that get three A grades at A-level (that is the top score) coming out of Eton College (the prestigious and highly expensive private school that Cameron went to) than from the whole of the population in the UK that are entitled to free school meals (the poorest in our communities). The higher the grades, the better the University you go to. So de facto, the top Universities tend to have a greater proportion of middle and upper class students. Way to go David, champion of the people. And whilst we’re at it should we reintroduce the workhouse?
There is also an assumption that having a “good degree” from a “good university” will make you a “good teacher”. Now I don’t work in education but I do spend a lot of time in schools and I wouldn’t mind betting that there is absolutely no correlation between a teachers educational attainment and their performance as a teacher. There is a whole myriad of skills that are required. Sure David may have seen some very well-educated teachers at Eton and of course they delivered results (look at the resource that they had to work with) but go to Peckham or Salford or Tiger Bay and you will see teachers delivering fantastic results in much harder circumstances and probably with less prestigious educational backgrounds. They bring a whole load of different skills to the party, it is not all about their education.
Finally, why the hell are paying off the loans of the more privileged for them to come into teaching for a short while and then bugger off into the city once they have fulfilled their initial contracts? The only way you are going to keep them is by paying a whole world more than they do at the moment. And where is that money going to come from David? Have you done the maths? How do you retain these people once they have had their pound of flesh? And who the hell advised you that this was anywhere near a sensible policy?