There was (kind of) a lot made this week about Michael Gove being the first Tory education secretary to send his child to a state secondary school. I was surprised but not surprised at the same time. I gained a new-found respect for Mr Gove, as I know exactly what being in an unfortunate state school can mean, and it isn’t the sort of thing I would really wish upon my child. Now they’re not all devoid of classroom control at all, as my two sisters went to an excellent one, but my personal experience wasn’t fab.
Cast your minds back to when there was widespread shock and condemnation on Diane Abbott, as she decided to send her son to a fee paying school. After years of seemingly socialist championing for the state education system, Ms Abbott appeared to do the mother of all hypocritical acts, by instead buying her son the route to a better education. Does this mean Michael Gove has done the inverse? Slightly. Gove, a Conservative politician and education secretary that invites boos and hisses like a pantomime villain, is doing something quite un-Torlike.
Worryingly, there is a liberal-ese group of society that wishes to piss all over someone’s parade, something I noticed when comments were made about the ‘type’ of state school Gove had chosen. Let me deal with those naysayers who pointed this out about Grey Coat Hospital (the school Gove’s daughter will be attending from September) –
A state school, is a state school. Full stop.
Whether that’s Grey Coat’s, London Oratory (where the Blair sons went), Sacred Heart (where Blair’s daughter went, and where I got rejected *sob*) or the bog standard East End school where I was plonked, a state school is a state school. If one is going to have
blind faith in the state schooling system and be good enough to support it, then one should look for the best provider. More often than not, it is a highly selective institution that can provide that sought after quality.
This liberal-ese rhetoric of blaming and guilt tripping needs to stop. While Diane Abbott’s embarrassing decision to send her son to a fee paying school stank of hypocrisy, it was also a demonstration of aspiration, and stop-at-nothing hope for betterment. As a fellow migrant, I recognise the necessary dedication and aspiration one must have when beginning with nothing, and I can imagine that Ms Abbott’s Caribbean heritage mirrors the experience of Africans and migrants in general. An experience where as a visitor, you need to work damn hard to get the best opportunities within reach to achieve an equal footing in your adopted home. If more black people could just afford to do what Ms Abbott did, I’m sure quite a few would.
As such it worries me when certain parts of society judge parents for the schools they choose to send their children. When it became anybody’s business where another adult schooled their child, I do not know, but if you ask the very people who attended state school if they’d consider sending their child elsewhere, I’m sure many would answer with a resounding ‘yes’. Conversely, ask the private school bashers to send their Pippas and Harrys to the local comp, and you’ll probably get a cacophony of excuses and shuffling feet.
Myself, a product of the state system, would judge nobody on the schooling decisions they made for children. In the end, all right thinking individuals want the very best for their children, and if that means packing your offspring to the best education money can buy, then more power to you. The downside to private school (speaking as a child of Hackney pre-gentrification) is the possibility of losing a grip on the real world.
However some parents have enough faith in their children and in the state, to ignore the private route. When this happens, we should not nitpick and critically examine the type of state school selected, but rejoice and think even further, of how to bring up standards in every state school. The issue to be addressed here is how to convince a parent (and sometimes even a child) that paying for education is unnecessary. This is more likely to happen if we have a bustling marketplace of great schools on offer.
Is the tide turning for the humble state school? Perhaps. We now have a new chunk of state schools that are doing amazingly well, particularly in my hometown of Hackney and let’s not forget the brilliant results we find in places such as London Oratory and Little Miss Gove’s Grey Coat Hospital. However, I don’t believe that the state school is quite the new black: unfortunately private schools will always be en vogue if there aren’t enough state schools that offer the same quality.
Broadcast Belle Fact: Grey Coat Hospital School was originally for boys.
This week my heart soared when I read that three young lads from Newham were on their way to some of the best schools the country has to offer. Ishak Ayiris will be heading to Eton, after landing a two year scholarship through the Pupil Premium, while his fellow schoolmates Irfan Badshah and Alexis Marinoiu, won prestigious scholarships at Winchester and City of London. Today I then read that more schools in England are using ‘lotteries’ to decide on intake. This led me to ask, what is the best way to accept secondary school pupils?
In theory, when a popular, good school is over subscribed, those who decide on intake can apply a lottery system whereby a child’s name is pulled from a ballot. However in practice, is this what happens? I do not work in a school, so can’t say for certain, but to me this does not seem like an effective way of getting into a school. What does it mean for merit? Is it taken into consideration? Who’s to say that these boys would have got into their respective schools, if they were to have relied on a lottery? Any answers to these questions would be gratefully received, because right now I think it’s a bit of an attack against genuine merit. If I can be proved otherwise, why that would be fab.
Stories like Ishak Ayiris’ always strike a chord with me: young, children of migrants, living in some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the UK, unfortunate school. However it demonstrates that your life chances do not always make or break you. There is a softly softly approach to so many things in UK society, including with regards to young people. The world is not fair and trying to force it to be so can stifle aspiration. Sometimes – even if you are a child – you can make your own luck through to hard work. I welcome any opportunity to encourage working diligently. Perhaps this is my youth is speaking (or possibly my bitterness to living too far away from my chosen good secondary), but I think that the best way to admit people in anything, is through merit.
Broadcast Belle fact: Newham is the 15th largest London borough by area
All I’m askin’ is for a little respect…
Aretha Franklin’s rendition of this song was on loop in my mind last week when watching Tough Young Teachers. A show that chronicles the journey of six fresh Teach First recruits, Tough Young Teachers is the latest guilty pleasure of mine in the education reality television genre, after the warm gooeyness that was Educating Yorkshire. Tough Young Teachers makes me cringe more, mostly because I’m watching young people thrust into their first teaching role, and well, just learning as they go along. More cringe worthy are the begging pleas for respect.
I asked blogger, Fullbright scholar, and Teach First alumnus Laura McInerney whether it was normal to hear newbie teachers expecting respect. She said yes. I entered a state of bewilderment.
Why anybody would expect teenagers to respect them the moment they walk into a classroom as a teacher is beyond me. Perhaps it’s because I remember being a teenager (it wasn’t that long ago believe me), and the reality of an inner city,
crap struggling school. This isn’t a boarding school in Nigeria my friends – things are rough outchea and respect is rarer than 5 A* to C grades.
What do teachers do to gain respect? I haven’t got the answers; I’m not a teacher, trainee or qualified. However there are a few things that I remember the teachers from school doing, which usually earned the respect (not fear) of my fellow learners:
- they didn’t try to befriend us
- they actually taught their subjects well and displayed an interest in what they were teaching
- they listened to what we had to say
- they didn’t show fear a.k.a they showed who was the adult
Respect isn’t free, and hopefully the Teach First cohort of this show will learn how true this is when it comes to secondary school children. I’m rooting for them despite their idealistic, somewhat naive outlook at the beginning of the series and I’m looking forward to watching again. Not just because my old ICT teacher Mr Hartnett is on it and I can’t stop laughing at him being on television.
Broadcast Belle fact: Teach First is an educational charity which in July 2013 was reported to be the biggest recruiter of graduates
Always interesting to discover new blogs through this roundup, and it’s always equally nice to find a post of mine included.
Originally posted on The Echo Chamber:
A round up of the best education blogs from the last week. If you are an education blogger on WordPress, please reblog this post.
- Some reviews of The Secret of Literacy | David Didau: The Learning Spy January 18, 2014
- Nurture – week 2 January 18, 2014
- 10 days of computing! January 18, 2014
- TouchPaper Problem #2 – A Pre-Session Thoughtsplurge January 18, 2014
- Mersenne and his primes January 18, 2014
- End graded observations: this year’s brain gym, and the gorilla in the classroom January 18, 2014
- The youngest children in each school cohort are over-represented in referrals to mental health services January 18, 2014
- When 140 Characters Isn’t Enough: Weekly update 18/1/2014 January 18, 2014
- Secret @TeacherToolkit: A leadership experience of Ofsted #SecretOfsted January 18, 2014
- Lesson Grading, Measures, Accountability and ControlsJanuary 18, 2014
- TDRE Boss Blog: TeachTweet #6 (16/01/14): Critique and Perfection January 17, 2014
- What mistakes did I make in my first year of teaching? January 17, 2014
- White noise – Sutton TrustJanuary 17, 2014
- Week 2 - teaching January 17, 2014
- Flash Back: Term 1 January 17, 2014
- Farewell Disruptive Child!January 17, 2014
- Multiple Answer Math TestsJanuary 17, 2014
- Spring Term: let the placements commence January 17, 2014
- No true frying pan January 17, 2014
- How long should we stay in the profession? January 17, 2014
- Don’t use Facebook: it’s naughty and bad. | frogphilp.com January 17, 2014
- A warped view of education seen through the eyes of Sir Michael Wilshaw January 17, 2014
- More on made not born: how teachers are created January 17, 2014
- ‘Are you a teacher Miss?’ Round two… January 17, 2014
- Maintaining Curiosity: Ofsted’s triennial subject report into science January 17, 2014
- Harold, William, Victor, and Me (Part 2) January 17, 2014
- Trivium 21st C: Could this be the answer? January 17, 2014
- Top 10 UK Education Blogs according to @CisionUK January 17, 2014
- Party Planning: My thoughts on #Touchpaper problem 4 – what determines the complexity of a concept? January 17, 2014
- The Social Construction of OFSTED reports – Part two: Pedagogic Illiteracy January 17, 2014
- Free school meals, a political football that is gradually deflatingJanuary 17, 2014
- Hassan’s internal number lineJanuary 17, 2014
- Probing the continuum January 17, 2014
- Tough Young Teachers episode 2: Blonde ambition – Tom BennettJanuary 17, 2014
- It’s the behaviour, stupid: Tristram and Wilshaw sing harmonies at the NEEC – Tom Bennett January 16, 2014
- A Vast Army of Terracotta Warriors: Just How DO We Teach History? « Teach Like a ChampionJanuary 16, 2014
- To boldly go…: The last chance saloon January 16, 2014
- Glitter and Gumption; Primary TFers Speak January 16, 2014
- Out In Left Field: How many Americans know what grammar is anymore? January 16, 2014
- Your Ofsted experience depends on your inspector | frogphilp.comJanuary 16, 2014
- Modelling Writing January 16, 2014
- Back to the Future January 16, 2014
- Teacher in every school dedicated to ‘maintaining order’ January 16, 2014
- What did OFSTED teach me?January 16, 2014
- Inspection Exhaustion January 16, 2014
- Do 40% of teacher quit in their first five years? January 16, 2014
- Boarding schools: lucky for some?January 16, 2014
- No more free market for teachersJanuary 16, 2014
- The role of lesson observations by @TeacherToolkit January 16, 2014
- How have OFSTED behaved in the last 2 weeks? January 16, 2014
- The Cult of Outstanding™ January 16, 2014
- Why we are in the PGCE game.January 16, 2014
- Leaving knowledge to the marketJanuary 16, 2014
- How much does it matter how students feel? January 15, 2014
- Acceptable Enthusiasm January 15, 2014
- “Schools should not appoint governors unless they are likely to be good governors” – Shock announcement set to transform schools (not). | LKMco, Education and Youth Development January 15, 2014
- Teachers stop moaning! January 15, 2014
- When 140 Characters Isn’t Enough: What makes a school exceptional? January 15, 2014
- The education technology divorce | frogphilp.com January 15, 2014
- What AfL is for | frogphilp.comJanuary 15, 2014
- Tortoise out of the Box January 15, 2014
- OFSTED 2014 Changes – What does it mean for class teachers?January 15, 2014
- The transformation of Tower Hamlets: how they did it January 15, 2014
- The School Staffroom January 15, 2014
- SCHOOLS THAT CONVERTED TO ACADEMY STATUS ARE PERFORMING BETTER THAN OTHER LOCAL AUTHORITY SCHOOLS January 15, 2014
- Professional Generosity January 15, 2014
- History: Taught Poorly or too Little? « The Core Knowledge BlogJanuary 15, 2014
- Non-statutory DfE School Governance Guidance mattersJanuary 15, 2014
- Wet Playtime January 15, 2014
- ORRsome blog posts from the week that was! Week 2 January 15, 2014
- Sales is the opposite of teaching | frogphilp.com January 14, 2014
- We have to use what we’ve got » The Head’s Office Blog January 14, 2014
- Weekend Reflection January 14, 2014
- Tough Young Teachers January 14, 2014
- Improving CPD (Part Two)January 14, 2014
- The Social Construction of OFSTED reports – Part one: The Conceptual Fallacy January 14, 2014
- Tristram Hunt: A ray of Hope for Teachers? January 14, 2014
- A Gift From Above January 14, 2014
- On being a governor and cogitating on teacher licencingJanuary 14, 2014
- BITC and Ofsted “Going in the right direction?” roundtable event 14/01/2014 January 14, 2014
- What’s working in my classroom at the moment? January 14, 2014
- CERP – Assessing ‘what works’ in school January 14, 2014
- My response to the Guardian article on FSM January 14, 2014
- Government urges school governors to behave more like ‘corporate boards’ January 14, 2014
- Education committee inquiry into academies – submissions published January 14, 2014
- Too Much Applause? January 14, 2014
- Harold, William, Victor, and Me (Part 1) January 14, 2014
- Growth in standardized test performance doesn’t mean growth in cognitive ability (study)January 14, 2014
- How can we make classroom observation more effective?January 14, 2014
- Classroom Practice – Create waves of learning January 14, 2014
- SLT members I have worked with (as teachers) January 14, 2014
- What I have learned about improving teaching January 14, 2014
- #LessonObs (part 1) January 14, 2014
- Does Size Matter? The 2012 Constitution Regulations January 14, 2014
- It’s all in the track record: judging the success of the free school programme January 14, 2014
- The social-media epoch is out-dating Ofsted and The Department for Education by @TeacherToolkit January 14, 2014
- Lesson observations as a mentorJanuary 14, 2014
- Good news for free school fansJanuary 14, 2014
- You’re My Teach First, My Teach Last, My Teach EverythingJanuary 14, 2014
- Why doesn’t Darren think he will ever leave the estate? January 13, 2014
- It’s not skills – it’s know-howJanuary 13, 2014
- Licensed to Teach? January 13, 2014
- Missing OFSTED Reports January 13, 2014
- At First Glance: A Sentence Starter Adds Unexpected Rigor to Writing « Teach Like a ChampionJanuary 13, 2014
- The Inside of the Bucket: Two Pictures from Jamie Davidson’s Classroom « Teach Like a Champion January 13, 2014
- Out In Left Field: What do foreign exchange students say about America’s schools? January 13, 2014
- “Math Wrath”: Are parents pushing for a return to tradition?January 13, 2014
- Is six Oxbridge offers enough?January 13, 2014
- The Goldfish Bowl » Removing the cues January 13, 2014
- Splog January 13, 2014
- Cooking in a Finnish Classroom: What I Wish I Learned as a U.S. Student – Taught by FinlandJanuary 13, 2014
- The Literacy Blog: Linguistic phonics: a practical exampleJanuary 13, 2014
- John Hattie on School Leadership | HuntingEnglish January 13, 2014
- TDRE Boss Blog: OFSTED Feedback January 13, 2014
- Bread and butter practice! -January 13, 2014
- Homework: a culture of high expectations and support | Stuff I’m learning at school January 13, 2014
- Phonics, reading, spelling and piano playing: some common ground. – John Bald/language and literacy January 13, 2014
- ResearchED2014 is GO – Tom Bennett – Blog January 13, 2014
- What is blocking your blogging? | frogphilp.com January 13, 2014
- Don’t trust your gut: a little bit more on the problem with grading lessons January 13, 2014
- Don’t trust your gut: a little bit more on the problem with grading lessons January 13, 2014
- Drop the Aspiration Tax January 13, 2014
- £17 million and the School Food Plan January 13, 2014
- TouchPaper Problem #7 – Memorising information (for up to 6 months) January 13, 2014
- Opening thoughts on why I think the 5 minute lesson plan is crapJanuary 13, 2014
- New Ofsted guidance & ICT – Mark Anderson’s Blog January 12, 2014
- Gove Week | frogphilp.comJanuary 12, 2014
- The “Teaching MOT” – the ticket to a smooth running profession or just another way to be fleeced? – AndAllThat.co.uk January 12, 2014
- New Curriculum? What new curriculum? January 12, 2014
- Labour Education Policy: Let’s take a moment to think it throughJanuary 12, 2014
- Things That Make You Go Hmmmm… January 12, 2014
All in a Tweet: Teaching great lessons? It’s down to us. January 12, 2014
- Learning key words in Mathematics. January 12, 2014
- Methink he doth protest too much* January 12, 2014
- My bias re. the Royal College of Teaching January 12, 2014
- MOT – Motivate Our Teachers…or Mad Old Tristram? January 12, 2014
- The quest for an NQT job January 12, 2014
- REGIONAL SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS-OPERATING FROM THIS SUMMER January 12, 2014
Re-(licensing/validating/invigorating) the profession* January 12, 2014
- Living a life worth living – the importance of guidance in schools January 12, 2014
- Touchpaper problem #5: How can I start a lesson well? January 12, 2014
The Tourist January 12, 2014
- Gifted Education Activity in the Blogosphere and on Twitter January 12, 2014
- What’s the best way to teach vocabulary? January 12, 2014
- Lions led by donkeys? January 12, 2014
- Spring Term, Week 1 January 12, 2014
- Quick Post: Is ‘critical thinking’ in education ideologically neutral? January 12, 2014
- Queen of the Imposters January 12, 2014
- Teacher Licences January 12, 2014
- As You Turn to Go January 12, 2014
- Careers work in schools has a literacy blindspot January 12, 2014
- An Inside View of Exams: Messages from the Chief Regulator January 12, 2014
- Teacher re-licensing: pros and cons | Teacher Development Trust January 12, 2014
- Exhaustipated January 12, 2014
- Getting rid of bad teachers January 12, 2014
- Nurture #14 – Reflections on the first week January 12, 2014
- Negatives January 12, 2014
- Wish I’d said that! - January 12, 2014
Professing professionalism: Labour and re-validation January 12, 2014
- Why does Kaylee struggle to complete class work? January 12, 2014
- Confession time.. January 11, 2014
- A year of work in progress – day 7 January 11, 2014
- When 140 Characters Isn’t Enough: Weekly round-up – 11th January 2014 January 11, 2014
Some of my worst playtimes at school were due to the rain.
Yes this may seem like a random thought, borne out of nowhere after a considerable absence from blogging since before Christmas, but the recent spate of bad floods made me think back to the pitter patter filled playtimes of yesteryear.
Whether it was being made to read books that I’d already read, being able to draw and use crayons for more than our allocated hour a week or so of art class, or fighting with the other children to relish being in the play corner, wet playtime at primary school was always a flurry of busyness. What I want to know today as a 24-year-old woman, is what do children spend wet playtime doing now?
The plethora of technology available especially for children these days means that what is considered a past time nowadays would be thought of as antisocial back in the day. Being glued to devices such as mobiles, tablets and televisions is not only noticeable in adults but also children who haven’t even reached double digits in age. While this is usually the case at home, can the same thing be said at school? I know that laptops are now used in classrooms up and down the country as educational aids, but are they also the go to source of fun during playtimes that have been ruined by rain? While hangman or heads-down-thumbs-up were the most fun things my generation could hope for during a damp break, do children now reach for the digital devices?
Teachers, I’d love to know what your classes do for fun during wet playtime. I’m sure there are a variety of ideas for dealing with rain messing up playtime, as after all, this is England.
BroadcastBelle fact: A Nimbus cloud is the type that produces precipitation.
Great post. I think Music is absolutely academic (but obviously practical too). I’ve always thought Music is a lot like Maths. Like they’re cousins. Probably why I find it so hard.
Originally posted on A Muso's Musings:
On twitter last week a school leader (@StuartLock) posted the following:
“In another anecdote today, when promoting an academic curriculum I got informed that Music is an academic subject. Can of worms…”
“I’m a big fan of music, and want to expand it, but it’s not like History or languages.”
I wrote another article in The Independent, this time focusing on visas and international students:
We should be encouraging students to enter Britain, not tightening our visa requirements – The Independent, 28 November 2013
I argue that the UK will slip in the innovation stakes if we continue with our slightly OTT visa rules. You’ll have to take a read if you want to know more.
Like many individuals, I had a teacher at school who influenced me and shaped my way of thinking in a big way. She wasn’t my maths teacher, she wasn’t my PE teacher and she wasn’t even my English teacher. She taught me art.
While I dabbled in the sciences during college before returning to my natural habitat of all things wordy, somewhere along the way I lost my initial zeal for art and design. Perhaps it was due to it being the only school subject that has ever made me cry. I once left the class in tears when the pressure of my 10 hour GCSE exam was too much, and the situation wasn’t helped by my eating bacon. I’m allergic to pork.
Yet I remained in love, or rather in awe of art. I’d always been obsessed with sketching along with writing since I could pick up a pencil and this followed me right through to secondary school. Along the road I met new friends – crayons, pastels (chalk and oil), charcoal, clay and paint. The number of paints. Watercolour, gouache, and of course that primary school staple, poster paint. My love for all things artistic and beautiful, as well as my school’s lack of adequate guidance, made art and design the only elective option I was SURE I wanted to take at GCSE level.
However it wasn’t my love alone of art that compelled me to choose it, it was the support and guidance of my lovely art teacher. Not only was she brilliant at her work, she taught me the skill in my approach to art. She drew the initial talent and interest I had in the subject out of me and helped me harness that intrinsic gift and manifest it into great works. Most of all she treated me as her equal, something which I would say is almost invisible in those who teach. I spent many classes having conversations with her that didn’t revolve around school or work, but instead current affairs, life, and the world and the ways of its human inhabitants.
I’ve taken a convoluted road to get to what I’m trying to put across. How many children do you know, who talk with an unbridled passion about art, aesthetics and design? How many times in the past year of Michael Gove versus teachers, have the words ‘art and design’ sprung up? Each time we argue about maths teaching, or about how many authors from the 19th century our children will read, or about phonics, or about whether five-year-olds should be taught to code, or whether there aren’t enough black people in our history curricula, I notice the absence of any meaningful dialogue on art. The subject is conspicuous by the very nature of its omission, and it breaks my heart.
While the importance of literacy, numeracy and enriching subjects found in the humanities is obvious, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to fall asleep on the importance of art. That’s ‘art’, the singular, not ‘the arts’, a title which tries to clump a variety of subjects together into one worthless heap. I am not here for that.
Art, a little like maths I guess, can be seen as a universal language. Practised as one of the earliest human activities, and contributing to entire cultures. The teaching of art helps children understand the world that they live in, but through a much more subtle way than say, history. The process of creating a ‘thing’ gives an innate sense of pride upon completion and as one of the few subjects where there isn’t necessarily a ‘right answer’, it gives more room for experimentation and expression. Backed up by no empirical research at all, my wholly unscientific view is that the gradual disappearance of art from our education discourse has contributed to a gradual decline of appreciation for culture.
I am so grateful that my wonderful teacher helped me during my formative years to work at sharpening my creative crafting skills. She did it with such vigour and passion. We need to make sure we’re shouting about how great art is when we’re talking about education, with the same fervour.
I think I realised all those years ago that studying a subject can quickly make one dislike their passion and that the way forward was to pursue it for pleasure in one’s spare time. Hopefully I’ll find my zeal again. Who knows, I may just end up enrolling in an art class and start my love affair with art all over again. Most of all I just want educators to start talking about art’s contribution to the development of a child’s creativity – with genuine zeal.
Hello and hope those of you who involved in education had a nice half term/reading week. I know I certainly enjoyed my couple of weeks off , tumblr-ing and having some birthday time to myself. I’m back though and I feel like asking some questions. Answers are very welcomed.
This morning while checking my Twitter feed, I spotted the education editor of the Sunday Times, Sian Griffiths, post a tweet about children who are ‘set to miss out on classics’ as English Literature GCSE becomes optional. This was based on an entry in the letters page of the site (please note that the site is paywalled).
Another user responded to her claiming English Literature has always been optional.
Is this true?
Through my own experience, I did a GCSE in English and a separate one in Literature. Both were compulsory and both were fun. English was categorically not called English Language: I remember this as my teacher nearly told me off for calling it that. English Literature though was called English Literature. It was fun but English slightly pipped it in the fun stakes as I didn’t like poetry. I never got poetry.
So, I have a few questions:
- Is GCSE English Literature now optional?
- Has it always been optional?
- Is there such a thing as GCSE English Language?
- Is the above the same as GCSE English?
- If they exist, are GCSE English and GCSE English Language optional at GCSE?
- Why is there such a thing as English Lang and Lit at A-Level?
So many questions so little time.
Broadcast Belle fact: English is a member of the Indo-European family of languages. This means that it is a distant relative of languages such as Hindi. Cool huh?