Everyone is an education expert. Almost everyone attended school, so they all know the score: teachers work short days, get long holidays and are all Lefties. Teachers are to blame when children misbehave or fail but are to claim no credit when their pupils do well - we all know that's only because the exams are easier.
Education is the favoured punchbag of politicians and the media. It suffers more interference, criticism and lack of support than any other area of public life, even the NHS. I am amazed that anyone ever wants to enter the teaching profession and am never surprised when people leave.
I've been engaged in education for most of my 61 years, as a pupil, student, teacher, parent, governor and adviser and I have seen fashions and trends come and go, not at the instigation of teachers but of politicians. The expertise and experience of teachers are ignored when policies are devised, the teachers just have to implement what the government decides is a possible vote-catcher.
A look at a few of the most recent government interventions illustrates what teachers have to face on a regular basis:
- Private schools should lend teachers to comprehensives. (Private schools are able to select their pupils from families who can not only afford the fees but who, on the whole, recognise the value of education and support their children and the school. Class sizes are much smaller than in state schools. Private schools do not have to follow the National Curriculum or impose SATs on their pupils. I suspect that 99% of teachers in the private sector would not survive teaching a single lesson in an inner-city comprehensive school. The experiment would provide some entertainment for the state school staff, though.)*
- Teachers should not ask children to put their hands up in class. (Teachers know how to suck eggs.)*
- Teachers should frisk pupils for knives. (Teachers' lives have been ruined by false accusations of physical or sexual abuse of a pupil, this crazy idea would give malicious pupils even more power.)* *My comments
If politicians and the press would show a little respect for the teaching profession, and let teachers get on with teaching instead of testing, if they would support instead of undermining them, then most schools would sort themselves out. Teachers know that children have different needs and interests and different levels of support at home, if they didn't have unrealistic targets to meet, they would be free to help pupils fulfil their potential, whatever that might be.