The Week in Education – November 9
Orwellian echoes are never far from earshot, not least in the world of education. This week the tout-puissant England schools minister Nick Gibb declared that the prospects for a career in teaching have “never been better”. Praising his party’s “free school” scheme, he claimed it had “liberated the profession” and provided teaching freedoms that only the private sector had previously provided.
The Multi-Academy Trust model for state schools, he added, had also allowed teachers faster promotion to leadership by providing “infrastructure above them”.
All this may be true, but some teachers will report that the MAT model has also sometimes ushered in an era of scripted lessons, homogenisation and apparently senseless disciplinary policies. The exact opposite of freedom, one suspects.
Indeed, teachers feel so liberated, they are opting out of the system entirely. Teacher trainers highlighted this week the significant numbers of UK-trained newly qualified teachers heading abroad to teach internationally.
In evidence to MPs, tutors from the Institute of Education at Manchester University said that 15 per cent of its primary cohort was planning to start careers overseas. A further 19 per cent were still deciding whether to remain in the UK or work abroad, they said.
“Anecdotally, our trainees believe that the terms and conditions for teachers working in international schools are more attractive,” they said in a submission to a Commons education committee inquiry into teacher recruitment and retention.
Well, England’s loss is international schools’ gain, at least, but it doesn’t bode well for UK independent schools who recruit from the same pool.
Meanwhile, independent schools and their supporters have continued their campaign to argue against Labour’s VAT tax raid on fees.
And it would seem many voters agree with them. A poll reported in The Telegraph suggests that one in four people think the move to tax school fees is “born of jealousy”. Could the move – ostensibly to raise funds for the cash-strapped state sector – be nothing more than a left-wing tantrum, a blind rage against independent schools’ audaciously well-maintained astro-turfs?
Elsewhere in this week’s edu-polls, a survey for MyTutor revealed that a third of parents feel out of their depth with their primary child’s homework. I would argue that children are the ones required to do the homework – parents are there to withhold YouTube until they’ve done it.