Thursday, 30 June 2011

An Apple For Teacher?

Everyone will have an opinion on the co-ordinated strike action taken by thousands of public sector workers today, 30th June. And, my guess is that those opinions will be pretty polarised.


This isn't a blog that lends itself, naturally, to political debate, but I am passionate about having an education system that delivers for our children. Successive governments have tinkered with the great, creaking sausage machine that we inherited from the age of the industrial revolution. As with any antiquated device, expert care and attention needs to be applied, if it's to carry on working at optimum efficiency. In short, it's dependent on talented, well trained, teachers (in that order). I'm no expert in fiscal policy, but I do know that if you start devaluing people's pensions and rewriting contracts to help patch a hole in the nation's purse, hackles will be raised. And, I understand the Hutton Report recognises that existing public sector pension schemes are sustainable in the long term.

I heard a mother being interviewed on the radio. She spoke passionately and told of how she would try to help keep her child's school open on the day of the strike. When asked how she felt about the teachers taking industrial action, her main gripe was parents having to arrange child care for the day. Arranging child care is another area I'm well acquainted with, and I do understand the pressures that mums are under, particularly working mums. But there was something about this mother's tone that I've since heard, over and over, in the build up to today. It seems that the word 'education' rarely slips into the conversation, which is a shame, because we're left with the impression that parents see child care as the primary function of their schools, with a few lessons thrown in for good measure.

For what it's worth, I don't think that teachers are being greedy, militant or self-centred. I do believe that they are yet another body of professionals, elevated in the public consciousness, and held up as paragons by countless point-scoring politicians, only to be sold short, now, in a crude money saving exercise.

Yes, quality education is expensive…but what price ignorance?

14 comments:

  1. Wishing them all the luck with the strike. I don't understand how people think ignorance is a good idea.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think one could argue that investing in quality education should be a priority of anyone with a long view ...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I couldn't agree more. I have commented on a post this morning about this very subject and my comment more or less said, parents should (with respect of course) remember that teachers are there to teach, not provide childcare and be childminders. If the parent goes out to work that really is not the teacher's problem. And another thing I said was I wonder how many of these parents who moan about childcare would moan if they had to work longer for less money. I suspect most if not all of them. Give a thought for teachers today and the people who are teaching our children times-tables and how to spell their name.

    CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just think, if I'd had a few more tachers I might have learned to spell my nam with a capital letter! Joking apart, they do a great job, and should be allowed to get on with actual teaching more often - not bureaucratic form filling.♥

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well said, Martin! A good teacher is worth their weight in gold. How many of us (although maybe *cough* getting on a bit), had the direction of our lives changed by an inspirational teacher?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well, speaking of learning and lessons, I just learned that if I am going to launch into a longer-than-usual reply on blogger I should write it elsewhere first and paste it in! I pressed something and it all disappeared a couple of hours ago. It must be someone trying to tell me to be more concise - so I will try to be. At least I am now able to read more encouraging comments from others. As a retired Primary School Headteacher I am going to endorse your views Martin.

    If we ever had to close the school many parents were more concerned about what they would do with the children, rather than with the chunks of curriculum they would miss. These were the same parents who would lie about their offspring’s health in order to take them to a pop concert, have their hair cut or to look after a sibling. In extremely wintry weather, when my staff struggled to school, often over long distances in dangerous conditions, the parents would take their children out of school for the day so that they could go sledging with them.

    Over the years I’ve heard all the usual comments about our easy number; short days, long holidays etc, usually made in ignorance by people who have an easier life and are paid more than the average classroom teacher. I used to ask why they weren’t doing the job themselves then as it was obviously so attractive - well we know the answer to that.

    I have been fortunate to work with some of the most dedicated, talented and inspirational people over the years, not just teachers, but support staff too, and I have witnessed a real difference being made to children’s lives, which can’t be measured by league tables and ofsted inspections. The job can sink you to the depths of despair and make you sing with joy in equal measure, but it’s not enough to say that all the reward is in seeing children making progress in their learning. Teachers have to live too; they have families, mortgages and a pension to think about. I’m not militant and I don’t agree with all the methods used to make these points, but I would defend to the end their right to make those points and wish them Good Luck!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well I did try to be concise! Funnily enough the word verification was ‘REWRITE’!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think some of them are being greedy, militant and self-centred.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I Dont Remember These Same Parents Moaning When The Schools Closed For The Royal Wedding.
    [I'd Love To Tell You That The Word Verification ='gove'.But It Didnt.............!]

    ReplyDelete
  10. I wish them all the best with the strike action and good on them. Great post :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I agree with everyone except Rog.
    It's all been said; education comes a very poor second for many parents except for those who can afford a decent one.

    Good luck to teachers and all public sector workers, They'll certainly need it with the prevailing attitude to make the bottom and middle pay for the sins of the rich.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I too agree with the strike, very much so, but I am worried that the 'cause' hasn't been sold well enough to those at the 'bottom and middle' that Friko mentioned.

    There was a large protest in my city yesterday but the local paper ran a headline on a Bricklayer who challenged the strikers and caused a bit of a 'discussion', shall we say. If the strikers can convince people like the Brickie in the long term, the government should be very afraid...

    ReplyDelete
  13. I agree with you, Martin. Well said.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.