TV Dream School Will Show Its Not Easy Being A Teacher

Opinion / February 22, 2011

It seems odd that the new Dream School TV programme does not include some of the excellent teaching resources that exist in our schools. It’s a great shame TV producers in their quest to make glitzy programmes have opted to only include ‘personalities’ in the programme. If nothing else this has the potential to prove that teaching, especially in a wayward class, requires considerable skill beyond knowledge in the subject matter.

What makes good TV is not always totally factual or conclusive. The ‘star’ content will predominately excluding examples of the natural teaching talent existing in our schools. Their inclusion would give greater level of empathy with the audience and a sense of what can be achievable practically. The stars may have achieved excellence in their subject field, but only Lord Winston has held a role activity involved in teaching. And from the critical reviews of the programme, it shows. The series holds the objective to prove that learning in schools can be hugely rewarding to both schoolchildren and teachers if it is made exciting. To up the ante and make it more watchable it is highly probable the children have selected primarily to give the dream “teachers” a run for their money. A bit of conflict makes good TV. But the objective of the programme is at risk. Throwing a few celebs into the lions den may get the ratings up but the reality of the programme may deter the potential recruitment of budding teachers.

Fifty per cent of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years. This statistic obscures the rationale for their departure but a key feature is the restrictive content of the national curriculum which defies initiative. The ridged regime leads to frustration in both students and teachers. The love of learning in a subject area can be fired up through enthusiasm and diversity or quenched by endless restrictions in how it is taught. If noting else the programme should reveal the love of the subject area displayed by an expert. Doubtless the Dream School will avoid the same restrictions and hopefully reveal the thrill of learning, beyond GCSE targets, as seen by the experts in their field. This will hopefully serve to open the eyes of the Department of Education to see that dull and restrictive interference is counter-productive.

Numerous captains of industry and University Dons complain of the inadequacies in our schooling process towards preparing children for employment or university. But we have yet to make the fundamental changes to the education remit to overcome this flaw. Consequently 20 per cent of young people leave school to become a NEET (not in employment, education or training)  and end up as a statistic in the long term unemployed queue. A critical failure seen by potential employers during the selection process is the poor work ethic of many school leavers.  If the nothing else the TV programme could just trigger a review in the future by the department of Education. But if it was to serve as a master class for teachers it could have achieved so much more by including some teachers who can turn the theory into practice. We have some brilliant teachers; the real problem is there are not enough of them.

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