All Change Please!’s Little Read Blog

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In All Change Please!‘s recent post A double McSpin and large McLies, it reported on the shadow education secretary’s early progress, or rather the general lack of it. Last week things went from bad to worse as Tristram (no relation) Hunt voiced his opinions on that lovable old dinosaur called Ofsted. While of course he agreed, as any sensible politician would, that pointless box ticking was by definition A Very Bad Thing, he completely failed to go on to say that Ofsted itself was also currently A Very Bad Thing, revealing his lack of understanding of what the actual problems were and the atmosphere that now exists in our schools.

No OFSTED Hope From Tristram Hunt

Instead he made it clear, at some length, and in a way that suggested the teaching profession as a whole might believe otherwise, that inspections were important and necessary and as a result are solely responsible for promoting high standards amongst Very Bad Teachers. What he doesn’t seem to grasp is that it’s not inspection as such that’s the problem but the way Ofsted are currently conducting them with their current ‘The Big Bogeyman Might Be Coming To Get You In The Morning’ campaign of terror.

As some All Change Please! readers will know, especially if the have they have read About This Blog, it was once an Ofsted team inspector itself, albeit a somewhere disruptive one.  Back in those days, after its initial round of inspections, the message from Ofsted was for inspectors to lighten up, be more friendly and transparent, and informally indicate positive ways forward – an approach that All Change Please! revelled in, with its main regret being that it never had the opportunity to return some six months later to see how well things were improving and to offer further suggestions. Then one day back in 2002, it finally saw the light, or at least the new guidance and revised EFfing form, or Evaluation Form as it was more formally known, and decided the time had come to abandon the sinking ship.

Sadly it seems things are not about to get better after the next election.

Meanwhile in another unconnected incident All Change Please! came across an article in The Torygraph by Janet Daily Mail, whose brief acquaintance it once made back in 1985 – but that’s another story.

Maoist class war wrecked our state schools

This really is offensive, irresponsible and quite inexcusable journalism. Apparently it seems the reason our education system is failing is not, as you might have possibly wondered, because of the abolition of grammar schools and the introduction of comprehensives. No, instead, warming to her ‘Politics and Journalism of Fear’ agenda, Daley wants us to believe that up to now our teachers have been following the Maoist ‘principle of pride’ towards our working class culture, rather than preparing our children to raise their aspirations in order to become bankers, judges, politicians and lawyers (Hmm.. Perhaps she is not entirely mistaken?). But, wait for it, despite Mr Gove’s best efforts, the really horrifying problem that is emerging is that the new generation of upcoming teachers on its way into our schools has already been brainwashed during their own education by the previous generation of Maoist teachers, thus perpetuating this sorry state of affairs, presumably forever.  And what makes this even more surprising is that All Change Please! has been working in education for the past 35 years and has yet to meet its first Maoist teacher.

So there we have it. Believe what the politicians and the media tell you, and our schools are full of Marxist Enemies of Promise and members of the Chinese Communist Party, all of whom completely refuse to have anything to do with raising standards and expectations, or with any form of accountability.

Finally then,  ‘读万卷书不如行万里路’ as they say in China, which apparently translates as ‘Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as traveling ten thousand miles’, or its closest English equivalent which is ‘An ounce of practice is worth more than a pound of theory.’ Or, as Wikipedia suggests, it means: ‘Even the most useful theories cannot substitute practice.’ These Chinese folk really do seem to know what they are talking about, don’t they?

I come to bury Gove, not to praise him

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Accidentally listen to a politician speak on the radio or TV, or read what they’ve said in a newspaper and it won’t be long before you hear one of them play the emotive Social Mobility card. Now All Change Please! is of course all in favour of enabling members of the population to improve their position in life, but our politicians seem to have a rather different and somewhat skewed view of the electorate’s aspirations to all become judges, doctors, lawyers, journalists and, of course, politicians. And All Change Please! suspects that in reality the potential for social mobility is better now than it’s ever been? (Discuss…)

The latest culprit appears to be our esteemed foreign secretary William Hague – AKA The Hood  – talking on the BBC Today programme:

The disturbing thing, I would say, is that in the 30-odd years since I was at a comprehensive school, it probably in those intervening decades will have become a bit harder for somebody from a comprehensive school to become the Foreign Secretary, or whatever position they aspire to.

That reflects on a long period of this country falling too far behind in the world in state education, and thankfully we now have the best Education Secretary in living memory – or longer – who is trying to put that right.’

Read more, if you dare: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2507861/William-Hague-says-harder-comprehensive-pupils-reach-now.html#ixzz2l205V0Mx

To which the ever-dependable Tony Wheeler responded:

It’s not state schools that hamper, it’s independent schools that have indoctrinated parents, pupils and the most powerful into believing that it’s worth breaking young people in order to keep these jobs in the old firm/family.

I am a product of comprehensive education and the most important thing it taught me is that I do not want to be a senior politician or a Whitehall civil servant or a QC, or a senior banker or a hedge fund manager or any of the so called “top” jobs eagerly snapped up by the Eton and Charterhouse Tory boys.  I know enough about what makes me unhappy to know that I would have to significantly break myself to be able to take on any of these roles.

As a teenager I had a big enough ego to believe I could’ve been anything I wanted to be but the idea of spending any time with this bunch of broken people was just stupid. I was having too much fun doing all sorts of exciting stuff and I wanted it to continue as long as possible.

It’s the Oxbridge elite (widely touted in this debate as in charge of all this stuff) who have mucked up the banking system, the health service the BBC, the transport system, power and water services. Their list of abject failures is endless. I think it’s time the proletariat woke up to the uselessness of this axis of evil and told them all to bugger off down the Job Centre…

And of course the reality is that during the 30 years since Hague attended his comprehensive school, standards have risen dramatically – from a time when a minority achieved O levels and the majority obtained second-best CSEs, to today when around half of children getting a grade A to C grades GCSE in at least five subjects. Let’s just hope and pray Hague has a better grasp of Foreign Policy than he does of Education.1S-4065408563_fdebe27a32_b

Meanwhile Hague is not the only member of the gang. Here’s another politician who comes to praise Gove and not to bury him.  Over the weekend the Torygraph published the following article by Boris Johnson:

We should be humbly thanking the super-rich, not bashing them

in which he makes some interesting, if controversial, points, before spoiling it all by writing:

There are kids everywhere who have a natural, if undiscovered, flair for mathematics and the mental arithmetic that business needs. They just don’t have the education to bring out that talent – which is why Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is so right to be conducting his revolution in schools.

Over the past 35 years All Change Please! has encountered many talented children whose artistic abilities have been side-lined in favour of academic subjects, but never one who has been held back from doing mathematics.

The belief persists that simply making mathematics – and other academic subjects – more difficult is in itself going to improve standards. Perhaps therefore we should somehow contrive to simply make parliamentary process more difficult, in order to improve the standards of politicians….?

Image credit (lower): Flickr  Mark Scholl

Bringing Gove to Book

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Judging by the proliferation of Christmas decorations that have suddenly manifestived themselves up and down our high streets the length and breadth of the country, All Change Please! can only assume that Xmas must be but a couple of weeks away, and that its calendar has got somehow stuck in early November.

Anyway, as its readers are now doubtless lying awake at nights worrying about what to give each other for gifts surely destined to coldly furnish forth the charity shops in the New Year, All Change Please! is proud to present its untimely Christmas Gift Guide

Top of the tree must surely be…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Everything-I-know-about-teaching/dp/1492912417/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=WSGI13V7SY0A&coliid=I1EG38TO2ACMW5

If you know of someone who would enjoy a fascinating, meticulously researched and highly analytic account of Gove’s personal experience of teaching that underpins his education policies, then this book is going to make the ideal present this Christmas.  Cleverly structured under a series of comprehensive chapter titles, the reader will quickly and easily grasp the true depth and breadth of Gove’s pedagogical insights.  An ideal stocking filler that surely a lot of teachers are going to be receiving?

To avoid disappointment, make sure you click on the link above to read the product description and check out the ‘Look Inside’!

Meanwhile if grizzly mysteries are more to your taste, perhaps ‘The Ofsted Murders’ will tick your box. Initial reviews of this book indicated that it was an outstanding novel, but more recent comments by those who just read a few randomly chosen paragraphs suggest that it requires improvement if it is to avoid being forcibly turned into an academic tome.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ofsted-Murders-Gary-Sargent/dp/144521573X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383940025&sr=1-1&keywords=ofsted+murders

And finally, if you know any teachers who are a bit of a mug for spending hours writing highly detailed lesson plans and doing everything their Senior Management say without question, then this could just be the gift they need.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00BYOV7X0/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i3?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=170Y8PPEX6GYJKRGFPJP&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=430153987&pf_rd_i=468294

Ho! Ho! Ho! And a Merry November to you too…

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons, Vouliagmeni (top), Flickr, Geoffeg (bottom)

A double McSpin and large McLies please…

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In what seems like a long time ago, while All Change Please! was recently enjoying itself in a galaxy far, far away, Stephen Twigg, the Labour Shadow Education Minister, was replaced by Tristram (no relation) Hunt. So, billed as a more demanding opponent for Michael Gove, how does he appear to be shaping up?

All Change Please! has to admit its initial impressions were not particularly favourable. In a just a few short weeks he has had to agree that Free Schools would remain open under a Labour Government, and on Newsnight he failed the Old Grey ‘Will you be sending your children to a state school?’ Test question. And it didn’t seem that someone who writes (admittedly in an article in the Economist): “It is perhaps time to think more imaginatively about precisely which equities are sacrosanct and which diversities are worth of encouragement” was going to get him very far with Daily Mail and Sun readers.

And then the other day in the Evening Standard, he said“you now need more qualifications to work as a shift manager at McDonald’s than to become a teacher.”  This, of course is misleading nonsense, especially when the headlines reported it out of the context of his more general and apposite message that McDonalds insist on training while Gove does not.

Of course the whole teacher qualification issue is mainly political/media spin. All Change Please! has yet to see any figures as to the number of unqualified teachers who have been employed in schools the last 12 months as an alternative to a suitably qualified one. And surely those that have been are likely to have better qualifications – even if not as a teacher – than a single A level in Shift Management?

From Gove’s perspective, the ‘no qualifications’ agenda is really to do with him wanting to close all these radical left-wing Marxist teacher training colleges that exist everywhere. So it’s a sort of ethnic cleansing to recruit a population of teachers who will never have been exposed to all this progressive education nonsense. But the problem is, as is revealed here, having Taught First, it seems that all these highly qualified young new graduates are now looking for softer jobs that have shorter working hours and more pay!

But hold on a cotton pickin’ moment. It then dawned on All Change Please! that Tristram (no relation) Hunt is actually cleverly playing Gove at his own game, presenting a misleading statistic or piece of inappropriate or non-existent evidence to encourage influential newspapers to report it in such a way that the public are fast-fed a simple, memorable so-called fact. And that’s exactly what’s needed to start to change public opinion.

Please Mr Hunt, we need more sound-bites like this. Indeed we need super-sized portions of them. Somehow you need to make a Happy Meal out of Mr Gove.

The trouble is that these days every time a politician from any party says or writes anything, all they do is reveal the extent of their ignorance of what actually goes on in real life.

Meanwhile, on the same subject, this from Mark Steel writing in The Independent is well worth a read!

Of course you don’t need qualified teachers in free schools. Or qualified brain surgeons, for that matter

Image credit: Sergio Alcántara  http://www.flickr.com/photos/sergiooaf/2921745031