It’s a shocking question to pose but many people working within the education system would say that we do have a broken system in our schools today. For those in the midst of it all, it’s in electioneering season that the stark realities are truly laid bare.
Once again, during another election campaigning, education has been booted around by all parties as a political football. As all political sides seem hellbent on making the biggest promises and pledges, many teachers will take a very cynical view of it all.
It’s going to take more than a few empty promises to repair the damage that has been done over the last decade.
A decade of devastation
Regardless of your political persuasion, it is extremely difficult to view the last ten years or so as anything less than devastating for the profession.
Forget apportioning blame, let’s look at what schools have had to contend with over the last decade. Alongside the usual ‘moving of the goalposts’ when it comes to Ofsted framework criteria, schools have been faced with GCSE and A level reform that was at best rushed through; and at worst ill-conceived too. To make things worse, all this change has come during a period of consistent budget cutbacks. Staff, courses and the curriculum have all been cut to the bone.
More than money is needed to repair the damage
Although considerable investment is needed to improve the situation in schools, all the political parties would do well to remember that much more is needed than money. Simply throwing money at schools will not solve the deep problems and issues that have taken root.
Sometimes damage can’t just be undone – at least not quickly. Thousands of teachers have left the profession over the last few years. Those numbers can be replaced, but the experience, knowledge and expertise that has been lost is far more difficult to recover.
The problem is that many young graduates have finally begun to listen to those within the profession. They have heard the concerns about salary and workload and decided to look elsewhere for their careers. Many who do still give teaching a go don’t stick around for very long.
Even billions will just take us backwards
The brutal, harsh truth is this. Billions can be pledged by political parties but, in reality, all this will do is restore the financial levels that the profession had in 2010.
Many teachers are calling for radical change, such as the abolition of both SATs and Ofsted but more is needed. There needs to be an honesty and recognition that schools are currently in the worst position they have been for, probably, 30 years.
No amount of reform, however positively it is welcomed by teachers or how speedily it occurs, will restore the morale of the profession. It has been demoralised and constantly knocked having been subjected to change after change, with little or no consultation, for far too long.
Education is on its knees
Politicians need a reality check when it comes to schools. Education is on its knees. Of course, if a person is down on their knees, they can get up again. All is not completely lost, but if we are to truly have an education system that teachers, parents, pupils, and society in general, can be proud of, real change is needed.
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2- Lessons from Singapore education system
3- How is the new system of school measurement impacting on creativity
4- Have funding cuts caused permanent damage to schools?
5- Is our obsession with testing ruining education?