The Education Secretary wants the school day to be lengthened and holidays shortened, but a senior MP has said that the time politicians spend in the House of Commons appears to be shrinking!
With the on-going riots starting in the capital and moving into towns and cities across the country, there is now more debate than ever as to who is to blame for this breakdown in our society where criminal behaviour has become so widespread and uncontrollable. While there is a never-ending list of who to blame – the government, youth culture, parents and society in general – we have taken a look online to see the teacher comments and media reaction to the riots and the education system.
Head teachers’ leader, Brian Lightman, says there need to be some “hard questions” and “uncomfortable truths” for parents and families, after youngsters were caught up in an unprecedented night of violence and looting.
‘Daily Mail: Years of liberal dogma have spawned a generation of amoral, uneducated, welfare dependent, brutalised youngsters
By Max Hastings
It reflects a society in which teachers have been deprived of their traditional right to arbitrate pupils’ behaviour. Denied power, most find it hard to sustain respect, never mind control…..So there we have it: a large, amoral, brutalised sub-culture of young British people who lack education because they have no will to learn, and skills which might make them employable.
Blog post: Most of the kids are alright
Insights from a teacher
I’ve taught the ‘unteachable’, despite being punched, kicked, having chairs thrown at me. I’ve taught fledgling criminals to read, and helped the ones who weren’t beyond help to fly in better directions. I’ve taught probably a couple of thousand kids, of all races and abilities by now and taught them exactly what I had the privilege of being taught, in my Home Counties grammar school. Some of the kids were rightly proud to go on to jobs in cafes and shops; some made it to Oxford.
Blog post: A UK teachers overview
Posted by Pooky Hesmondhalgh (@creativeedu)
John Cunningham works with 12 academies, some of which are in the areas affected by the riots.
He looks at how we can go about rebuilding a feeling of community and accountability following this week’s riots. .. Perhaps it is due to both parents or carers working, creating a lack of accountability for their whereabouts. Or maybe it is the fact that they see others looting shops, ‘getting away with it’ and trying to do likewise. Perhaps their role models of today are not setting good standards. Indeed we may ask who are their role models.
Eugene Spiers, an Assistant Headteacher thinks about what approach teachers should take when discussing the riots with their pupils.
We must talk and listen to our young people about rights AND responsibilities and how engaging in their communities is a powerful thing with many opportunities.
Neil Jeffery, a UK teacher, shares his views on the UK riots…
I was truly saddened, though, to see young children, not adults, children of around 12-14 years of age, joining in as if it were some kind of game. I tried to think of where I had seen it before…
@ Tenuviel riots – what we are seeing on the streets is the animal behaviour that is present in our schools on a daily basis – I know, I am a teacher.
@CherylBernstein A London-based teacher friend sees a direct connection between the riots, the school holidays, & the cuts to youth programmes
If the young feel so alienated from their own communities that they loot on their own front doorstep and create such devastation – what can be done about it?
Links to all media sources are to provide a news insight and are not the opinion of Eteach or the author.
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Teaching unions have announced their intention to strike later in the month in defence of members’ pensions – a move that could close thousands of schools and which has been described as ‘irresponsible and wrong’ by Cabinet Minister Francis Maude.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has announced ‘overwhelming endorsement for strike action by its members to defend teachers’ pensions’. The union will be campaigning alongside the Association of Teachers and Lecturers – traditionally the most moderate of the teaching unions.
‘Pay more, work longer and get less’
The NUT believes that teachers’ pensions are fair and affordable. It says the Government wants teachers to ‘pay more, work longer and get less’. It accuses the government of ‘pressing ahead with unnecessary reforms despite the changes already made to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme in 2007’.
NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said, ‘The Government’s unnecessary attack on public sector pensions has convinced NUT members that there is no alternative but to support strike action’.
‘It is disgraceful that the Government is pressing ahead with its reforms which will affect teachers’ pensions. The Government knows that they are affordable. This is a policy which has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with politics.’
‘The NUT is party to the TUC negotiations with Government to protect public sector pensions. It is not too late for common sense to prevail and for these unnecessary changes to be stopped. It is in no one’s interest to create a whole new swathe of people who are a burden on the taxpayer in old age.’
‘Irresponsible and wrong…’
However, cabinet office minister Francis Maude has appealed to those planning to strike to reconsider, calling the move ‘irresponsible and wrong.’
A spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE) said; ‘The Government is committed to working openly and constructively with unions to ensure that teachers continue to receive high quality pensions and that the interests of all professionals are represented fully as pension reform is taken forward.’
‘Lord Hutton has made it clear that there needs to be a balance between a common framework for all schemes and the need for flexibility to take account of specific workforce circumstances, such as those of the teaching workforce.’
‘We are clear that a strike by teachers will only damage pupils’ learning and inconvenience their busy working parents. The wellbeing and safety of pupils must remain paramount.’
What are your thoughts about the upcoming teacher strike? Will you be taking part in it or do you think it will do more harm than good?
With Lancashire teachers taking the highly unusual move of striking over pupils’ bad behaviour and a ‘lack of backing from management’, we ask just how widespread these kinds of concerns are.
It’s an abnormal day when teachers strike over issues other than pay and conditions. It was widely reported in the media last week that around 70 staff at Darwen Vale High School in Darwen, Lancashire went on strike and formed picket lines to protest over what they described as threats, violence and ‘poor management.’
The Lancashire Telegraph reported that ‘members of the NUT and the NASUWT voted overwhelmingly to take strike action to protest against the management’s failure to support staff in dealing with challenging pupil behaviour.’
‘Children no better or worse than anywhere else’
A representative from the local NUT branch emphasised to the BBC that the school’s children were no better or worse than anywhere else: “This is not a strike against pupils. It is about management and management failure to support staff in dealing with challenging behaviour.”
The school is now said to be in discussion with the unions and staff to resolve the situation and to ensure “that staff feel well supported when they do need to deal with behaviour issues.”
‘Creating an allegations war zone’
The action came during a week when education secretary Michael Gove was accused of creating a “much more aggressive culture” and “creating an allegations war zone,” when he issued new guidance to schools on discipline, which reminds teachers that, where necessary, heads can bring criminal charges against pupils.
Darwen Vale has been rated as a good school, with pupils’ behaviour also given a good rating, by Ofsted (June 2010).
If you’re a teacher, do you feel supported by management over discipline issues? Do teaching staff need greater powers to deal with unruly behaviour? Why not share your views below?
Education Secretary Michael Gove recently announced the first wave of 16 ‘free schools’, although earlier much higher numbers had been discussed. Free schools are one of the Government’s flagship education reforms and a significant part of David Cameron’s ‘big society’. This gives parents, teachers, charities and companies the ability to set up their own state-funded school outside of local authority control. So are free schools a useful way forward or just another education fad?
Many of the groups are motivated by a desire for more school places. “Most are grassroots groups, though there are two backed by private education firms, and a number of the schools will have a strong religious flavour,” explained The Guardian.
The most widely publicised new school is probably the West London Free School, led by author Toby Young. “Michael Gove has approved our proposal – but there’s still a huge amount to do”, wrote Young in the Daily Telegraph, which reported that a third of new free schools will be run by faith groups; there are proposals for Britain’s second Hindu state school, in Leicester, for example.
“In the first move of its kind, one primary school in Slough will be run by a private firm – the Childcare Company, which provides training for nurseries – although it will not be allowed to make a profit,” said the paper, which also noted that another primary in West Sussex will be run by the Montessori movement.
“There is a strong emphasis on academic performance across all the free school projects,” reported The Guardian. “The Stour Valley school plans a traditional core of subjects, based on the ‘gold standard of GCSEs’ but tied in with this will be an awareness of which courses will prove useful at work.”
Labour and the unions have criticised free schools: Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT said that there’s a wealth of “international evidence that confirm(s) that academies and free schools are a recipe for educational inequality and social segregation.”
The Telegraph quoted Ed Balls, the Shadow Education Secretary and Labour leadership candidate as saying: “It’s laughable for Michael Gove to claim that just 16 free schools opening next year exceeds his expectations. In the summer he talked about 700 new free schools and a year ago he was talking about thousands.”
Children choose whether to attend lessons
It’s interesting to contrast the academic aspirations of many of these groups with those of the original alternative ‘free school’; A.S Neill’s Summerhill School is a co-educational boarding school in Suffolk, where children choose whether or not to attend lessons. All members of the community – adults and children, irrespective of age – are equal in making school decisions democratically. Founded in 1921, it continues to be an influential model for progressive, democratic education around the world – a place where “success is not defined by academic achievement but by the child’s own definition of success.”
Meanwhile, over in the Daily Telegraph, one reader commenting on Toby Young’s school advised: “As well as Latin being compulsory, French or German must be compulsory up to age of 16… Avoid at all costs trendy subjects for obvious reasons…”
“Recruit teachers with some real life experience too – army, travel, business – they often inspire pupils, drop the requirement for a PGCE (as is the case in the private sector) – this has deterred a lot of potential teachers,” continued the contributor.
Now there’s a thought!
• See our earlier pre-election coverage on education policy
• Are free schools the way forward for education? Will we see many more registering in the months and years to come, or are they just another education fad?