Once again Michael Gove, the educational secretary goes into bat, this time with the National Association of Headteachers. It must be with some trepidation that as head of the U.K.’s educational structure our intrepid minister faces the onslaught of the conference which has already indicated posing a vote of no confidence in his strategy.
The educational games being played between Michael Gove, the Department for Education, and the teaching resources is not pleasant reading. Clearly something a bold strategy is required to redress a failing system that is acceptable by the people that are required to implement it. It therefore seems ludicrous the teaching profession is openly condemning all initiatives being fed down through the educational hierarchy. Instead of taking the time to complete the fundamental review that clearly is required, we are witnessing a series of shots from hip that are missing the target completely and serving only trying to antagonise the system. This beggar’s belief; in this day and age of global markets, instant communications and the availability of a staggering array of technological advances we can get schooling so wrong.
We hear repeatedly of comparisons with overseas educational systems, noticeably in Scandinavia and the Far East, which are heralded as the aspirational benchmark. Rather than completing an overhaul of our entire system, which clearly needs fixing we seem to be adopting elements of overseas policy in isolation that has induced confusion rather than forthright policy. Clearly the bigger picture is not being seen and although Michael Gove, an intelligent man, has given considerable thought to this future policy it is appearing at the grassroots level as the thoughts of a desperate man.
Many academics see the change in schools structure through the introduction of academies and free schools as a means disrupting the strength of the teaching unions rather than the forthright policy to improve our educational standards.
Playing games with GCSE versus “O” level and instigating a more rigid curriculum for state schools which are not an operational necessity in academies appear as an educational game where the rules change by the day. It is no wonder teachers are reacting badly to this level of change and conflict. It smacks of the policy from the Thatcher days when the prime intention was to break the trade unions. The history books will show this created catastrophic changes that changed the face of manufacturing in the UK entirely, and not all to the good.
If the educational policy is now to break the teaching unions they have almost succeeded through subterfuge. The countless failed initiatives have driven the life out of the teaching profession. Changes to the GCSE and a tightening of the curriculum have met with scorn and a series of negative votes in the confidence of the system. Schools can opt to become academies or free schools and avoid the full ramifications of the curriculum. Targets are changed and an element of teaching freedom is induced. But is this just an element of capitulation by the department for education. The choice to opt out is not being taken lightly by schools. The initial take-up, fell well short of the predictions but could be an indication many schools are waiting to see what happens to the vanguard. If the situation of the ailing confidence in the Department for Education continues, and it sees no signs of abating, it may be a means to an end. If schools shift to academy status to reclaim a sense educational reason and control then the work of the department will have been achieved. The criticism will decay and it will become a third party’s fault.
It is not beyond the wit of man to develop and maintain an educational programme that is fit for purpose. We live in ever changing world as did our forefathers. Whatever they did in to educate their children over the previous millennium still waits to be ameliorated. In comparison to medical science and technology education appears to have stalled, completely, and this is travesty that will haunt us all in the future.