January 22, 2010

"A sealed loop ..."

Dan Jenkins writes:

    Just wanted to say how taken I was by your comments about education. ... I am a Head of English in a secondary school. I haven’t read your book yet but the comments you posted in reply to Graham struck a chord.

    If all of this auditing really did weed out those poor teachers there may well be a purpose in it but it rarely does – poor teachers survive because they are better than no teacher and generally get given a good reference when they evince signs that they want to move on (the GTC is a whole other can of worms) – and yes I agree those that can fill in forms, find meaning and comfort in meaningless data and the set meaningless targets for others tend to rise to the top.

    The thing that struck me most was your reference to the cost – the hidden cost in what appears to be a costless process – the psychic cost, the wearying cost which reduces good teachers to tired teachers.

    I don’t know if you have looked at the new OFSTED grading system – to be accorded Outstanding now a teacher must engage all pupils/students at all times – a requirement which appears to many (including myself) as ridiculous. Yet rather than institutions pointing this out and thus refusing to play the game, they have working parties set up to try and achieve this impossible dream. It seems that the Olympic motto of Higher, Faster, Longer (or whatever it is) has now become the motto of Education.

Dan also draws my attention to the sinsister Fischer Family Trust:

    The data generated by FFT are inviolate and target grades are generated from the pupil specific data – no reality check is allowed to take place and teacher’s ‘success’ or otherwise is measured against the figures produced ( an impossible prediction cannot be changed because these are the figures we are judged on). It’s a sealed loop of target setting and judgement of performance by results that feeds round into ever more invasive Performance Management target setting for teachers and Lesson Observations by senior teachers working with the aforementioned impossible standards set by OFSTED. Which of course then leads onto valuing schools based on league tables… which leads back into FFT targets (of course set at the impossibly high category D – 25th percentile)

    This you all know I am sure – the point about audit culture – the way teachers now have to be proficient with a whole skill set which has less and less to do with Teaching and Learning and more and more about book keeping. This, I feel, is in keeping with an erroneous belief in ‘accountability’ – a quasi legal notion that being ‘responsible for your data’ will somehow improve the experience of learners ( service culture ideas of consumers and consumer rights in here too I feel). There is a pun on accounting and accountability that I am unable to make but it is in there somewhere!

Posted by mark at January 22, 2010 08:42 AM | TrackBack