10:00 am - January 19th 2010
It’s always a sure sign that the Tory faithful are happy when Tory bloggers start posting long extracts from one of Cameron’s policy speeches.
We’re going to begin at source – at recruitment – and make sure we get the best people into the profession. At the moment, not enough of our brightest people consider going into teaching, especially those in the subjects we need – like maths, and in the schools that would benefit most from their knowledge – tough inner-city ones…
We can get round this problem – we just need to learn from abroad. Finland, Singapore and South Korea have the most highly qualified teachers, and also some of the best education systems in the world, because they have deliberately made teaching a high prestige profession.
They are brazenly elitist – making sure only the top graduates can apply. They have turned it into the career path if you’ve got a good degree…
So we will end the current system where people with third class degrees can get taxpayers’ money to enter postgraduate teacher training. With our plans, if you want to become a teacher – and get funding for it – you need a 2:2 or higher.
But can you be sure that any of these high-flying graduates you want to attract can actually teach?
It’s also interesting to see Dave picking on Finland as one of the three countries cited as having an excellent education system.
There’s a little more to Finland’s success than restricting access to the teaching profession to graduates with 2:2 or better, and some of what makes the Finnish system so successful will have the Tory faithful chewing the carpet in a state of blind rage rather than applauding Cameron from the wings.
Cameron omits to mention, for example, that:
1. Finland has a wholly comprehensive education system. There are no grammar schools or other selective institutions, to speak of. Finland’s comprehensive schools are expected to take in pupils, irrespective of their personal background and the skills, abilities and aptitudes they possess on entry, and adapt to each individual pupils’ needs.
2. Teacher training courses are massively oversubscribed and, typically, accept only 10% of applicants. Studies looking at the positive outcomes generated by of the Finnish system invariably pay little or no attention to the quality of applicants for teacher training courses. What they focus on is the quality of Finnish teachers on leaving university to enter the education system.
3. All Finnish teachers are required to complete a Master’s degree in either education or a teaching-related subject and all are treated as pedagogical experts.
4. On taking up a teaching post, Finnish teachers are afforded a significantly greater degree of latitude and pedagogical autonomy than their counterparts in the UK.
5. Finnish teachers are expected to teach and, for the most part, are left alone to get on with the job of teaching with little or no outside interference from the state, politicians or even parents.
6. Finland does have a national curriculum, but unlike the UK, their curriculum covers only the general subject matter to be taught, not how it should be taught or how long should be spent on each topic, and teachers have a considerable say over the content of the curriculum.
7. The Finnish system does not make use of national tests or examinations – teachers are trusted to assess pupils’ performance throughout the system based on the individual student’s classwork, projects, portfolios and teacher-generated examinations.
8. Finland does not make use of school league tables, nor could it given the lack of national tests and examinations. School outcomes are measured, but only using data drawn from sample-based surveys and this is only published at system level
9. School exclusions are also unheard of in Finland because they’re not permitted by law – once a pupil enters a school, it’s the school’s responsibility to educate that child whether they (the school) likes it or not.
10. As you might imagine, in a system of that kind, non-teachers (i.e. school governors and local education authorities) have far less authority over schools than is the case in any other OECD country.
It is just about everything else in the system is pretty much as socialist as anyone on the left could ever wish for. It’s not a state-socialist system, which is just about the only kind of socialism that most Tories are capable of recognising, but it is a socialist education system none the less.
Funny how that observation – that it’s only the teachers who’re ‘elitist’ in the Finnish system, and nothing else – failed to make it into Cameron’s speech.
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Education ,Westminster
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Reactions: Twitter, blogs
- Robot J. McCarthy
Czary Baby! RT @libcon :: Cameron: Isn't the most socialist education system in the OECD brilliant! http://bit.ly/5gH98L
- James Hepplestone
http://bit.ly/8pJ3x4 <- Maybe this is what is meant by 'Red Toryism'. @libcon
- Mike Power
It's only "the most socialist education system" if you start playing silly games with your definition of 'socialist'. http://bit.ly/4CBlDX
- Mick Dickinson
@benjamindyer trouble is that the best teachers gravitate to private schools leaving state schools gasping http://bit.ly/8pJ3x4
David Cameron praises the most unapologetically socialist education system in Europe http://ow.ly/YeHF
- Robot J. McCarthy
*rolls sleeves* RT @Rogue_Leader David Cameron praises the most unapologetically socialist education system in Europe http://ow.ly/YeHF
- Nick Drew
RT @libcon Cameron: Isn’t the most socialist education system in the OECD brilliant! http://is.gd/6A1vs
- Paul Evans
Cameron: Isn’t the most socialist education system in the OECD brilliant! http://bit.ly/585NT5
- A ‘good university’ « Though Cowards Flinch
[...] simply being a highly qualified person is likely automatically to make someone a better teacher. Unity points to the fact that the Tories’ choosing Finland as a model is ironic, to say the least, [...]
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