Gove is dismantling teacher-training: you should be worried for the sake of your children


by Guest    
9:10 am - April 24th 2013

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by Natacha Kennedy

Michael Gove’s outburst on lengthening the school day, like most of his pronouncements, obscures something much more sinister. His plan to see kids kept at school through long summer days and into the evenings will obviously appeal to the Gradgrinds of the New Right.

Yet behind the guise is a deliberately hidden reduction in teaching quality – not merely through allowing unqualified teachers to work in academies and “free” schools, but by removing teacher training from universities and placing the responsibility for this onto individual schools.

This was the conclusion of Prof Sir Tim Brighouse in a paper published last week about the future of teacher education.

Sir Tim is blunt about the damage Gove is doing to schools through the destruction of teacher training. Yet Ofsted has shown, using hard data, that university-based teacher training is far superior to school-based routes (p76).

For example, Finland is consistently one of the best performing countries in the PISA international comparisons. Teachers in Finland are all university-trained to Masters level and this is reflected in their pupils’ academic achievements in schools.

Of course training teachers at universities does not mean student teachers don’t spend a lot of time in schools; in fact they spend almost the same amount of time in the class as if they were on a school-based route anyway.

So the loss is of the tried and tested input they get for the rest of the time, seminars and tuition sessions which develop students into reflective practitioners able to continue to develop their practice as professionals.

In May 2010 Michael Gove said that the current generation of teachers were “the best trained ever”. Almost all of those were trained by university departments of education.

In other words Gove is dismantling, as fast as he can, something even he recognizes as a particularly successful system for training teachers.

The issue of teacher training appears to be one that is irrelevant to most people, but ultimately it comes down to a choice: what would you prefer for your children, long hours of rote learning which bore and demotivate them, or a smaller number of stimulating and inspiring lessons?

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1. Timon for Tea

“but ultimately it comes down to a choice: what would you prefer for your children, long hours of rote learning which bore and demotivate them, or a smaller number of stimulating and inspiring lessons?”

How about a larger number of stimulating and inspiring lessons? Why isn’t that on the cards? It may be very nice for wealthy people who can afford to have their afternoons off to wander up to the leafy school gates at 3.15 to pick up the kids before ponies and piano, but for those of us who work, it is very hard.

I have worked as a teacher, as a research assistant and as a teacher-educator in England. My experience, my reading and my research activities over 35 years have indicated that English Teacher Training has never been given enough attention by Government. Fads, expediency and lack of commitment have taken their toll from one reform to the next. Teaching works because teachers, on the whole, are remarkably resilient and remarkably diligent, not because teachers are (as a matter of Government policy and provision) well-trained or well-educated.

My opinion for what it’s worth is that if teachers are systematically given more time and resources to investigate and improve their own practical and intellectual prowess, before and throughout their careers, schools can be much richer. The study of pedagogy in England is in sore need of wider attention and practical engagement. Well-informed expertise is a powerful resource.

Experience in the classroom, as is often said, is little use if it’s one year’s experience repeated annually until retirement. Experience mixed, at suitable intervals, with contemplation, formal study or discussion is precious.

The tragic present has a man in senior office with a reckless disregard for the kinds of intellectual seriousness that he naively supposes he is capable of. Gove is either hopelessly foolish or hopelessly dishonest.

3. Chrisfromham

Timon for Tea

As a retired teacher I would just like to lob in my two-pennorth
-the fact that young children are pretty tired by the end of the day and are ready for a change of activity/rest. [In my experience Teachers work on well past 3.15 and that is their opportunity to plan, resource, research and record pupils progress ready for the following day.]
The need for end of day activities/child minding to suit parents working hours shouldn’t be confused with longer school days/hours spent in formal learning.
Yes, inspirational teaching, of course. But since the national curriculum and league tables a great deal of what happens during each school day is dictated from ‘above’.
The teaching profession always seems to be a target for politicians in particular and society in general [everyone has an experience of education from which to generalise] and Gove’s current trashing of its professionalism, its opinions and the need for rigorous training is particularly aggressive.
HIs permission to use untrained[=cheaper] staff and now the move to an increase in training on the job and a decrease in degree courses completely undermines the profession and the job it tries to do.

As a retired teacher I would just like to lob in my two-pennorth
-the fact that young children are pretty tired by the end of the day and are ready for a change of activity/rest.

From the age of 7 to 18 my schoolday ran from 8.30 until 6. Chunks of this were taken by extra-curricular things (school plays, sport etc). I was also in school on Saturday mornings. That’s effectively three extra days a week for eleven years over the state timetable.

It does make you wonder the extent to which the attainment gap between state and private is simply down to the fact that you get taught more at private schools.

@ Timon for Tea

There’s certainly a case for schools providing more comprehensive ‘wraparound’ care (e.g. in the form of before- and after-school clubs) for the many parents who need it. But it’s quite a jump from there to thinking that children and teachers should be spending another hour and a half a day in the classroom. Younger children just couldn’t sustain a suitable level of engagement for that long a day. Older children already have plenty of reading, homework, revision etc. to do outside of school hours. And teachers are routinely working c. 60 hours a week during term time, plus several days during most holidays, as things are;* so a 25%-ish increase in workload is out of the question. You’d have to take on extra staff, with all the implications that has for budgets, continuity of provision etc.

*For anyone naive enough to think teachers work roughly from 9 till 3 during term time and get 13 weeks off a year:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2159173/70-teachers-nighter-prepare-lessons-according-survey-teaching-magazine-concludes-hours-rest-us.html

(I know, I know… the Mail was the first link I found covering the story, sorry.)

Anecdotally: my wife’s workload as a senior primary school teacher is around 65 hours a week during term time (in school from 8-6 every day plus c. 15-20 hours at home evenings and weekends). Half-terms are Monday-Friday working weeks spent catching up on assessments, reports, planning etc. at home. Easter, Christmas and Summer holidays generally also include a week or so of working at home plus a day or two in school.

In the 1950′s, whilst waiting to be called up, and having just finished A level Maths and Science, I was drafted into a local boys Secondary Modern to teach Maths – there being a maths teacher shortage at the time. I had no training; but then none of my grammar school teachers had been trained (graduates were not required to be trained in those days). Some of my own teachers were good, some bad, some outstanding. When I started teaching, I discovered that most of the teachers in the school were ex-servicemen who had been ‘emergency trained’ – a post war scheme to overcome teacher shortages. Although their course only lasted nine months, and in that period defiencies of academic knowledge had to be repaired as well as basic principles of child learning instilled, I found that on the whole they were excellent teachers – I learned a lot from them. Although after leaving the forces I chose another career, my experiences all those years ago have made me realise that the quality of a teacher does not depend upon the amount or type of training they receive. It depends upon their experience, knowledge, and character. You could train some people for 10 years and they would still be hopeless teachers.
PS I do not think I did too much harm to the boys to whom I taught algebra for six months.

@ Merrymaker

There are always going to be people whose natural aptitude for a given activity – teaching, singing, playing football, whatever – means they can do it to a good standard with minimal training. And there are always going to be people whose lack of any natural aptitude for some activity means they’ll never be able to do it to a good standard no matter what training they get. But it doesn’t follow that ‘the quality of a teacher [/singer/footballer/whatever] does not depend [to a significant degree] upon the amount or type of training they receive’. Generally speaking, people with some aptitude for an activity are going to get better at it with training; so both natural aptitude *and* training matter.

Perhaps one day there will be a thorough enquiry into English teacher education and continuing professional development that makes recommendations based on a consideration of history, international comparisons, professional expertise, research findings and national needs and resources rather than personal anecdotes? If mere personal experience of the nooks and crannies of mass compulsory education were of any use we would already have a brilliant system. If reminiscences teach us anything it is that our English schooling could be a great deal better than it has been to date.

Gove will preside over one more lurching grasp on the tiller of a ship travelling in eccentric circles to nowhere in particular.

9. Richard Carey

The fundamental problem is having a system which is centrally planned by the government. The left are complaining because Gove is doing things they don’t like, but what they won’t challenge is his right to exercise such sweeping power, because they want such power to remain, in the expectation that they’ll get their hands on it once again.

Break up the state quasi-monopoly and let the decision-making process go back to the local level, and you may get some common sense.

Gove is the puppet of the global elites like Murdoch.

Education like health is to be handed over to Murdoch and all the other spivs. They can only make money if the they pay teachers less, and do education on a much cheaper budget. Hence Gove’s de skilling and promotion of McEducation. Teaching basic dates by rota is nice and cheap. Just as Hunt is de skilling nursing.

As always with the far Right, follow the money. It’s always about the money. If you donate to the tory party like Lord Harris or support the privatisations the tory party will hand you our schools and hospitals on a plate.

It’s fascism folks. Nothing else.

11. Planeshift

“Break up the state quasi-monopoly and let the decision-making process go back to the local level”

Does this mean you want grant maintained schools and academys to be returned to local government?

12. Richard Carey

@11,

“Does this mean you want grant maintained schools and academys to be returned to local government?”

Not really, I’d like them to be independent of local and national government. If I had to choose between local control or Whitehall control, I would probably choose local control, but local government ain’t what it used to be.

13. Mr Reasonable

Academies are not obliged to monitor the progress of any newly qualified teachers, so it is unlikely that they would have the teacher time to supervise, monitor and mentor any unqualified staff, employed to save money but still expected to ‘hit the ground running’, yet with no idea of how to motivate children, plan lessons, assess youngsters etc. Teacher training allows novices the opportunities to make mistakes, the kind of mistakes that would no doubt be repeated by ‘unqualifieds’ working with a full timetable and on a salary. However, whereas a student will leave the school after a period of weeks, this person cannot! Without mentoring, they could flounder and fail and children will suffer. Trainees often decide, after careful consideration,to leave a training course. No one suffers. An unqualified teacher, thrown in ‘at the deep end’, may also decide to leave the profession, but the consequences are far more serious. Education is disrupted. Another teacher is hired.

Mr. Gove believes that knowing a lot of stuff makes anyone potentially a good teacher. It takes more than that, I’m afraid. Training gives people the chance to find out if they could be a good teacher; and if not, no matter, try something else. Chucking unqualified ‘experts’ at youngsters is impractical, bad for the children and schools and, frankly, rather cruel on these untrained ‘wanabes’.

14. So Much for Subtlety

Yet behind the guise is a deliberately hidden reduction in teaching quality – not merely through allowing unqualified teachers to work in academies and “free” schools, but by removing teacher training from universities and placing the responsibility for this onto individual schools.

This is based on the unusual assumption that possession of a qualification is the same as quality. It isn’t. A university degree merely says that someone has a credential. No more. Not that they can teach. Not that they will be a good teacher. Not that they like children. Just that they can jump through the hoops. Universities are by no means obvious places to train teachers. I fail to see why courses on Gramsci – dumbed down of course – help to improve teacher quality. The same with nursing. It is a great way to force up wages but it is not necessarily a way to improve teaching.

Teachers in Finland are all university-trained to Masters level and this is reflected in their pupils’ academic achievements in schools.

Sorry but no. Finland does well *and* their teachers often have Masters degrees. But you cannot claim the latter causes the former.

So the loss is of the tried and tested input they get for the rest of the time, seminars and tuition sessions which develop students into reflective practitioners able to continue to develop their practice as professionals.

Reflective practitioners is Trot-speak for dumbed down Trot theory. Thus explaining why so many teachers are so bad. The aim is to drive out anyone but the hard left from the education sector. Grove is right to condemn it.

In May 2010 Michael Gove said that the current generation of teachers were “the best trained ever”. Almost all of those were trained by university departments of education.

And yet if a child is not functionally illiterate when he graduates, it is not from want of teachers trying. The education system is a disaster.

In other words Gove is dismantling, as fast as he can, something even he recognizes as a particularly successful system for training teachers.

Best trained is not the same as successful. As can be seen by anyone who is unfortunate enough to have to spend any time with the products of this education system.

The issue of teacher training appears to be one that is irrelevant to most people, but ultimately it comes down to a choice: what would you prefer for your children, long hours of rote learning which bore and demotivate them, or a smaller number of stimulating and inspiring lessons?

That is not the choice. The choice is simpler – would you rather your child learnt from a teacher who loved teaching and knew something about the subject, or would you prefer that your child got some reject from the Socialist Workers’ Party who loathes children but cannot change career and thinks the whole idea of learning is elitist anyway. We have the latter. We need to move back to the former. Get teacher training out of the Universities.

15. ludicrous pseudonym

@SMFS

If all teachers were, as you imply, SWP-sympathisers, the SWP would be in a much better state than it currently is…

Also what are your solutions ? You have a great deal of cynical snark to dish out on a great deal of subjects but I’ve not seen you put forward any real ideas for anything different.

16. So Much for Subtlety

15. ludicrous pseudonym

If all teachers were, as you imply, SWP-sympathisers, the SWP would be in a much better state than it currently is…

Well they would have to be sympathisers with a huge tolerance for rape. But the education unions are the only unions where the SWP is strong.

Also what are your solutions ? You have a great deal of cynical snark to dish out on a great deal of subjects but I’ve not seen you put forward any real ideas for anything different.

Well Grove is moving towards a solution but I don’t think it is enough. Given the entrenched bureaucracy the only real solution is to close down the State sector. Given that the only useful students able to read and write come from non-government schools it would not matter much either way.

So Much for Subtlety

To what extent do you think your own contributions to this discussion demonstrate the results of a good education? Whether you derived your own education in a formal institution, a public or a private school, or in the wider context of serious engagement with the world of knowledge and experience, how would you characterise that education’s quality? Are you posts examples of how a well-educated person might engage in debate?

The sentence that provokes me to ask this is:

“Given that the only useful students able to read and write come from non-government schools it would not matter much either way.”

Given that this is comically and demonstrably untrue, I wonder whether your writing it shows a clumsy appreciation of sarcasm, a careless disregard for reality or something else that my own limited education cannot appreciate?

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 9 Richard Carey

“Break up the state quasi-monopoly and let the decision-making process go back to the local level, and you may get some common sense.”

What does “the local level” mean exactly? It sounds like you’re saying all would be golden if we just left things up to local councils, but that’s weird as a) local councils have good chance of being crap, and b) you’re a libertarian.

19. Chaise Guevara

@ Tim

“From the age of 7 to 18 my schoolday ran from 8.30 until 6. Chunks of this were taken by extra-curricular things (school plays, sport etc). I was also in school on Saturday mornings. That’s effectively three extra days a week for eleven years over the state timetable.”

Yes, but how long were your holidays? I’m guessing at least six weeks over state education. (Four weeks at Christmas, four at Easter, eight or more over summer.)

Your basic thesis is almost certainly correct – more time learning means children learn more stuff. But I’m guessing things like resources and class sizes are pretty bloody relevant too. Not to mention the pool you’re drawing from in the first place. Also, as someone who vaguely remembers being a kid, I can’t in all conscience condemn them to a childhood of constant education.

20. So Much for Subtlety

17. Sam Saunders

Given that this is comically and demonstrably untrue, I wonder whether your writing it shows a clumsy appreciation of sarcasm, a careless disregard for reality or something else that my own limited education cannot appreciate?

Actually it is simply a statement of fact. Any child that learns anything does so outside the State education system. The proof of this can be seen all around you.

21. Richard Carey

@ Chaise,

“What does “the local level” mean exactly? It sounds like you’re saying all would be golden if we just left things up to local councils, but that’s weird as a) local councils have good chance of being crap, and b) you’re a libertarian.”

By local level I mean the schools themselves. As human beings we are diverse. It follows that schools should also be diverse. The more independent the schools are, the more I would expect this to be the case.

As a poor second, I’d say local councils, in preference to central government. I accept (A), because I would rather live with the risk that some councils and thus some schools will be crap, compared to the risk that the central government will be crap and thus all schools will be crap (a sort of “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” argument).

As for whether all would be golden under my enlightened plan, the answer is most likely “no”. There would be problems, as there are now, but, due to my optimistic attachment to liberty, I believe the problems would be less and more easily remedied. :)

I’m sorry I posted. I didn’t realise that So Much for Subtlety was a troll. I shall not be back.

Yes, but how long were your holidays? I’m guessing at least six weeks over state education. (Four weeks at Christmas, four at Easter, eight or more over summer.)

Sounds about right. Longer days, shorter terms.

It does leave me a bit impatient with the idea that 12 year olds would be exhausted if they had to spend an extra hour in class though.

In the nineteenth century, schools were run by a range of ‘education providers’, who were paid according to their pupils’ attainment in national tests.
This is the ‘Performance related pay’, or ‘payment by results’ that is oft-touted by Tories as a panacea for improving public services.

The system resulted in the ‘education providers’ chasing funding by getting their employees to ‘teach to the test’.
It resulted in learning by rote, and the cramming of a narrow range of facts in order to get children to pass the tests.

It resulted in very poor rates of literacy, and very few school-leavers being capable of critical thinking.

The children of the poor were particularly badly-served, because their parents could not afford to send them to ‘good’ schools. There is, after all, no Profit to be made in trying to sell goods or services to those with no money to pay for them.

At the end of the nineteenth century, with the world rapidly industrialising, the industrialists of this country realised that, in order for Britain to be able to compete in the modern world, it needed a workforce that was literate, numerate, and capable of critical thinking.

A way was needed to make the ‘education providers’ focus on *providing education* rather than on chasing funding.

In order to achieve this, the hotch-potch of ‘independent’ ‘education providers’ was done-away with.
Local Education Authorities were established, and school were placed under democratic control, and funded properly.

Even the Tory Party spoke out – and voted – in favour of this reform, because they could see that it was the only way to improve standards and create a workforce that could analyse the tasks that they were being asked to perform, and identify any efficiency savings that could be made in the production processes with which they were involved.

Education standards in this country soared as a result.

Today, the world is a far more complex place than it was at the end of the nineteenth century, and the need for a workforce that is well educated and can think critically and analytically is stronger than ever.

BUT:
The Tories (and their Monetarist/Neocon counterparts in ‘New Labour’) have spent the last thirty four years facilitating capital flight from this country. They have encouraged the Rich to move all the investment to ‘emerging economies’.
i.e. all the jobs have been Exported.

This means that the Rich do NOT any longer need the general population of this country to be educated, as they no longer employ people in this country.

Indeed, if the general population of this country WERE to be educated, then the children of the non-Rich might be able to compete with the children of the Rich.
A result that the Rich (naturally) actively wish to PREVENT.

So, what we have seen over the last thirty four years is: the introduction of Price Mechanisms in Higher Education, in order to prevent the children of the non-Rich from accessing Higher Education;
the rise of Unpaid Internships (another Price Mechanism), in order to prevent the children of the non-Rich from accessing gainful employment;
and now, the Privatisation of education, in order to prevent the children of the non-Rich from accessing ANY decent education.

In order to ensure that no non-Rich child can ever ‘better itself’, we are also seeing the closure of Public Libraries.

If anybody thinks that a ‘Free Market’ in education will ‘improve access and lead to world-class standards for all’, let them first explain why it is that there are no Aston Martin or Rolls-Royce dealerships in Brixton, Moss Side, or Glasgow.

Let them also explain how ‘free’ a market can be when (unlike the market for soap powder or breakfast cereal) one is NOT at liberty to change between ‘provider’ every week or month if one so wishes (if you think that repeatedly yanking your kids out of their schools is going to be *good* for them, then I have a very nice Bridge available for you to purchase at a very reasonable price).

Let the Privatisers also explain how many for-Profit ‘education providers’ are going to be willing to build several extensive facilities in each town, in order to ensure ‘free competition’ by providing the local ‘market’ with a high degree of over-capacity, in order to facilitate ‘consumer choice’ of swapping between providers.

Let them also explain how many for-Profit ‘education providers’ are going to rush to provide a world-class ‘product’ to the people who can least afford to pay for it.

Mr. Gove’s intended ‘reforms’ to the education system, to the curriculum, and teacher training provision,are NOT consistent with an intention to improve services.

They ARE consistent with his wishing to removing access to education from the children of the non-Rich, and to condemn those children to being a semi-literate jingoistic herd, to be used as cannon fodder whenever a Corporate Party Donor wishes to gain access to valuable natural resources located under the soil of some foreign country, and to provide an obedient Servant Class.

Just like the ‘good old days’ of the 1820′s, when the ‘aristocracy’ ruled this country, and the Poor lived out their nasty, brutish and short lives in the slums owned by their ‘betters’.

25. MarkAustin

“Gove is dismantling teacher-training: you should be worried for the sake of your children”

Actually, no you shouldn’t.

I used to teach in Further Education, and started (not completed due to redundancy) a teacher training course. It was about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

All of the people who had or were taking this course that I spoke to considered it was a useless ritual that had to be undertaken in order to continue to work.

Given the grip of academia on teacher training, there is no chance of getting useful training until someone breaks the thrall of the self-appointed experts and actually looks at what is needed and what works.

I might add that, apart from the wholly technical (e.g training on how the disability legislation would affect education) most staff development fell into the same category of moderate uselessness.

26. Richard Carey

@ Gem,

that is a load of tosh. I’m not going to bother to go through all of it, but:

“If anybody thinks that a ‘Free Market’ in education will ‘improve access and lead to world-class standards for all’…”

I want a free market in education, but it obviously won’t lead to world-class standards for all. Like now, there will be some good schools and some bad schools, just as in the free market in restaurants, some are good and some are bad.

“Let them also explain how ‘free’ a market can be when (unlike the market for soap powder or breakfast cereal) one is NOT at liberty to change between ‘provider’ every week or month if one so wishes …”

Why compare it to soap powder? There are plenty of transactions which exist in the free market which are more binding and long-lasting than buying soap powder. When someone buys a car or rents a flat, they do so in the knowledge that they can’t chop and change every week.

“Let the Privatisers also explain how many for-Profit ‘education providers’ are going to be willing to build several extensive facilities in each town, in order to ensure ‘free competition’…”

That’s not at all necessary for there to be a free market. There are already many schools in existence, which would most likely continue whatever changes were made.

In any case, the government is planning nothing as radical as a free market. They like having central control, the same as Labour do. That’s the problem.

Anyway, I’ll leave you to your conspiracy theories.

26

I don’t share your optimism Richard, the 1870 Education Act was introduced because after around 120 years of industrialization and the need for a more literate and numerate work-force, the market still had not provided the necessary interventions. In fact, a bigger percentage of the population in the 18th century were more literate than in the 19th century. Sure many churches and benevolent industrialists did finance some education, but this was nowhere near enough.

@Richard Carey:
“I want a free market in education, but it obviously won’t lead to world-class standards for all.”

No, it won’t. It will enable the Rich to get a world-class education, while condemning the non-Rich to no chance at all of a good education, just like the 1820′s.
I also note that you offered absolutely NO attempt to show that the non-rich would be able to access a good education in a ‘free market’. I think that it is because you admit that they WON’T be able to access a good education.
I think that that would be an execrable outcome. You appear to welcome it.

“Like now, there will be some good schools and some bad schools, just as in the free market in restaurants, some are good and some are bad.”

And just like the free market in restaurants, access to the good ones will be decided by a Price Mechanism.
If you are Rich, your kids get to go to the best schools. If you are NOT rich, you kids will ONLY get to go to crap schools. Your ‘life-chances’ will be set at birth, and determined solely by the degree of wealth (or the lack of it) of your parents. Cui bono?

“When someone buys a car or rents a flat, they do so in the knowledge that they can’t chop and change every week.”

Yes, and just like EVERY such non-fluid ‘market’, the best ‘products’ are available ONLY to the wealthiest, while the non-wealthy are left with access ONLY to tenth-rate ‘products’.

When the ‘product’ is a car or a restaurant, this is not very important, as those are discretionary purchases whose failure to be of the very highest quality has no negative impact on one’s life.
If the ‘product’ is a flat or a house, then living in tenth-rate housing has been PROVEN to be very bad for you.

So you have rather strengthened my point for me. Thank you.

When the ‘product’ is education, being able ONLY to access a tenth-rate version of it will be highly ‘negatively impactful’ on one’s life chances.

It will also reduce the size of the ‘talent pool’ available to employers within ‘UK PLC’.
When only a minority can afford an education, then there is a tremendous reduction in the numbers of qualified candidates, and competition for employment.

Or, if you would prefer to think of it in these terms, the ‘market’ of qualified individuals for employers to choose from will be greatly restricted.
Which, as any devotee of Market Economics will be able to tell you, will drive UP the price of qualified employees, and drive their quality DOWN.
Cui bono?

A ‘Market’ in education *does* mean that the rich get to ensure that their children – and ONLY their children – have access to Higher Education, and decent jobs. And their children’s children. And their children too. In perpetuity. This is NOT, in my opinion, an outcome that can be characterised as ‘desirable’.

“That’s not at all necessary for there to be a free market. There are already many schools in existence, which would **most likely** continue whatever changes were made.”

I just love your damning equivocation ‘most likely’.
There are indeed “many schools in existence”, but if you do NOT happen to live in a major conurbation, you will find that there is probably only ONE to which your kids can get on time in the morning.
Because you just AREN’T going to have the time – or the money – to transport them the great distances to any ‘competitor’ schools.
Particularly if your employer is keen on ‘flexible working’, or on shifts.

Remember that disrupting children’s sleep patterns (e.g. to transport them great distances to school) has already been shown to be negatively impactful on their educational outcomes.

‘Conspiracy Theory’?
The history of education in this country shows what happens when ‘the Market’ is allowed to impinge upon education.
The rich get richer, and the poor stay uneducated. And the country settles back in to being a nasty little Third World kleptocracy. Just like the 1820′s.

The ONLY people who would benefit from a ‘market’ in education are the very richest people.
Such as the esteemed gentlemen and ladies who are members of the current Cabinet, and the ‘Business Tigers’ of the City of London.

Everyone else would suffer.

29. Richard Carey

@ Gem,

you write too much.

“No, it won’t. It will enable the Rich to get a world-class education, while condemning the non-Rich to no chance at all of a good education, just like the 1820?s.”

In the present circumstances, the rich get the so-called “world-class education”. That will no doubt continue, whatever happens to the bulk of the schools. There’s no reason to think non-rich people won’t get a decent education in a free market. Indeed I think they’ll get a better education, once schools are independent of A) the government and B) the academic ideologues.

“I also note that you offered absolutely NO attempt to show that the non-rich would be able to access a good education in a ‘free market’..”

I wasn’t aware I was required to. I’m sure they would, as it happens.

“I think that it is because you admit that they WON’T be able to access a good education. I think that that would be an execrable outcome. You appear to welcome it.”

I don’t appear this way at all. You are merely unwilling to accept someone believes a free market would work better than the state system, which I do.

“And just like the free market in restaurants, access to the good ones will be decided by a Price Mechanism.”

Rubbish. There are many restaurants where you can eat very well at a reasonable price. You’re like the man “who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

“I just love your damning equivocation ‘most likely’”

What more can I say, given we’re talking about a hypothetical situation?

There’s no reason to think that schools need to be run by the state. If the nation as a whole can afford to pay for the present system, it can certainly afford to pay for a free market system, in which they won’t need to fund all the quangos, commissions and agencies of the government, which divert money away from the schools.

30. Richard Carey

@ Gem,

one further point:

“The history of education in this country shows what happens when ‘the Market’ is allowed to impinge upon education.”

There is a market now. It’s not a free market, and the rich can generally buy themselves out of it, either by going private or buying into a catchment area of a good state school.

A common example; recently friends of mine really hoped to get their kid into school A, desperately hoped he wouldn’t get allocated to school B, which would then have put them in the dilemma; should we scrimp and save and send him to school C, a private school? Luckily they got A, but not everyone is lucky in the state-run school lottery.

The problems you foresee in a free market system exist already in the state system. The question is whether they would be less or more in a free market. I say less.

31. Just Visiting

Gem

any chance you could keep your posts shorter – I like to read everything posters write on LC, but such long pieces are off-putting.

A question – you seem to see a very black/white world, eg

> very highest quality… in tenth-rate …

Isn’t the real world more of a normal distribution (using the statistical meaning) – i.e. most schools are near the average: few are very good, few very bad.

Likewise most teachers are near the middle of the quality curve.

32. So Much for Subtlety

24. Gem

Gem, I take it from your very long-winded, sub-literate self-righteous posts that you are actually a teacher?

It resulted in learning by rote, and the cramming of a narrow range of facts in order to get children to pass the tests.

As opposed to the present system where children learn nothing at all.

It resulted in very poor rates of literacy, and very few school-leavers being capable of critical thinking.

Actually it is impossible to teach to the test without teaching literacy and among children who went to school, success in such schools was very high. If Britain had a lot of illiteracy back then, it was because a lot of people did not go to school. Not, as now, because a lot of children wasted 12 years of their lives sitting in a classroom without learning even to read.

And critical thinking is a crock of sh!t designed by the Teachers Unions to cover up the fact that they are not teaching anything at all.

Today, the world is a far more complex place than it was at the end of the nineteenth century, and the need for a workforce that is well educated and can think critically and analytically is stronger than ever.

And yet the Teachers Unions continue to insist that schools should be run for the benefit of their members and not children so that these skills are now no longer found in State schools. Which turn out illiterates with a healthy disrespect of Britain and authority. No more.

This means that the Rich do NOT any longer need the general population of this country to be educated, as they no longer employ people in this country.

If it was up to the Tories children would be educated. The problem remains the Teachers Unions. Hard to explain why they are so opposed to education.

And by the way, Britain is a destination for foreign investment. We import more capital than we export.

Indeed, if the general population of this country WERE to be educated, then the children of the non-Rich might be able to compete with the children of the Rich.
A result that the Rich (naturally) actively wish to PREVENT.

Hence the abolition of Grammars.

If anybody thinks that a ‘Free Market’ in education will ‘improve access and lead to world-class standards for all’, let them first explain why it is that there are no Aston Martin or Rolls-Royce dealerships in Brixton, Moss Side, or Glasgow.

If the government gave money for everyone in Brixton to buy a RR, there would be. No one is suggesting the state is going to stop paying for education.

Let the Privatisers also explain how many for-Profit ‘education providers’ are going to be willing to build several extensive facilities in each town, in order to ensure ‘free competition’ by providing the local ‘market’ with a high degree of over-capacity, in order to facilitate ‘consumer choice’ of swapping between providers.

We know they are, because they did. Britain used to have a lot of small schools. They were closed when Britain moved to Comprehensives. Grammars do not have to be large. You have a few students doing one specific type of programme. But Comprehensives have to be huge because you have to hide the fact you are streaming within the school. So you need to have, essentially, enough students to provide a Grammar stream and a Secondary Mod stream as well. Fewer, larger schools.

Let them also explain how many for-Profit ‘education providers’ are going to rush to provide a world-class ‘product’ to the people who can least afford to pay for it.

Because the State would still pay. Eton is cheaper than some inner city London Comps. So it could be done.

And stop knocking the early 19th century. Not as good as the 18th century by all means, but a great time to be British.

Tim J re comment 4;

Your observation regarding more time spent learning = more learnt is so obvious yet not many people here are prepared to engage with it as the prefer to consider the adult’s interests over the child’s.

A general point to others: It’s not about state v private rather it’s about more learning v less learning.

As someone who was state educated I have no corner to defend. However I would be happy to see my children educated to the best standard possible. My children are my responsibility and it’s up to me to provide the best for them.


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