I have an issue at the moment, and that is the fact that teachers seem to continuously want to bash Michael Gove and all he stands for.
I am fed up with it. Our state schools, on the whole, are not good enough. Not only is it clear that in terms of global competition we seriously fall short – in October last year it was reported that “England is 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy out of 24 countries”, but also from looking at current Further Education cohorts.
There are thousands of talented, bright and capable students completing vocational programmes in our FE colleges, but there also thousands of 16-18 year olds who have the maths and English capabilities of 10 year olds. Young people who have spent the last 5 years in secondary education doing, well, what? How can so many young people pass through a system to come out at exactly the same level as they went in?
I spent the entirety of my school years in independent education, my experience of state education consists of working as a TA in an inner city London school and my last 6 years in FE. So admittedly I have a narrow perspective. However, the number of young people I have worked with who have been systematically let down by the schools they attend is more than enough evidence for me that things need to change.
Why is it so bad for Mr Gove to ask for state schools to aspire to be more like independent schools? Independent schools are brilliant, their results say that much! But they also offer so many more opportunities for children to broaden their horizons. I recently found some paperwork that my parents received after I took a careers guidance test at school – it was incredibly accurate! I went skiing every year, rowed, played a range of sports, took part in young enterprise events, went on countless trips, went climbing and gorge walking to name just a few activities. I know that my parents’ income had a large role to play in this, but my horizons were broadened in a way that never would have happened in the state system. Why oh why is it so wrong for anyone to hope that the standards at state schools will start to move towards the standards of private schools?
When I was doing my teaching qualification, the lecturer set us a starter task of listing three things school taught us. My list was:
2. How to ski well
3. A good speaking voice
The rest of the group, who had all been educated in the state sector, had lists that included items such as how to escape bullies, how to fight, how to get away without doing any work. I was horrified. It was the first time I realised just how lucky I had been as a child.
It seems to me that state teachers are acting in a naturally defensive manner, they don’t want to be told that what they are doing isn’t good enough. That is understandable, but when the truth is, that what they are doing isn’t good enough, then they need to accept that change must occur. After all, the best state schools are ones whose curriculums and values are more closely aligned with the independent sector than the state sector.
When I have children, I will do everything I can to ensure that they can go to private school. I don’t want them to be victims like my friend’s daughter – Inevitability of Education. I will want the absolute very best for them, but that is the right of every child, to have the very best education, and so what if that means our education system moves away from its ineffective left wing legacy and towards a neoconservativism? We need to do what is best for these children in a changing and challenging world.