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.’


  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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