Will sacking lots of teachers solve our woes?

10 November 2007

Appeared on BBC News, responding to a government adviser who says we should be sacking teachers in schools which are performing badly. I say that many good teachers are unhappy because of the multiple pressures that they face: pupil indiscipline, lack of parental support, government paperwork, the pressure to get results versus giving children a proper education, lack of support from senior management. None of which I suffer from in my current school (of course) but which occurs in many schools in the country.


I appear on the accompanying film.’

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  1. If you want to sack the worst you first have to determine who they are. Who will work this criteria out? Who’s qualified to do this – teachers? Surely you would need to ask the best teachers – but what criteria do we use to find them? You can see the circle that’s going into. So – democracy – the politicians have a mandate – but they don’t have the skills – and they have multiple incentives to skew the criteria this way or that. Expert teachers appointed by politicians – that’s how it’s been so far – Woodhead etc. So the first problem is establishing the measuring scale. The next is maintaining it in a changing world. It will be subject to political pressure all of the time. Any scale will put some people at the bottom – that’s not a charecteristic of those people, it’s a characteristic of scales. Are the people at the bottom the same people over a long period of time? Or is it just a rotating field of people moving in and out of different phases in their life and their teaching whilst interacting with a changing set of criteria for judgement? if that is the case (and i think it is) then the set of ‘sackable’ teachers is as good as random. Perhaps it is people who are able/liable/prepared to construct an argument of this sort who will to be silenced/kept away from children!

    from Martin
  2. It’s management by culling!

    from Martin

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