Friday, 13 May 2016

The Crankshaft Test for Primary Schools

There is discussion about how many English primary schools should be classified as failing this year. Should it be an increase of 1 percent, or 1 percentage point? This is the level of argument that we have descended to.
Whether it is 1 per cent or 1 percentage point, the system is wrong. The figures are purely arbitrary. It means that the government has decided that however good schools become, they plan to fail a particular number. They can pick any number they wish, and this is what they are doing.
Imagine if we did the same with driving tests. You could be a good driver but the authorities could decide that a set percentage always have to fail. Why would you do that? Would the population feel that was reasonable or fair?
To continue the analogy, the driving test could fail you if you did not know what a crankshaft was, even though it had no bearing on your ability to drive. Driving instructors would have to give lessons in crankshafts and drivers would be more likely to pass the driving test if they knew about crankshafts, than if they were good drivers.

Something is seriously wrong with this policy.

Are YOU The Organ Grinder's Monkey?

Many Academies are having to cut costs due to budget constraints. To save money on any significant scale requires cuts to staffing. So is this an issue for all schools, or is it a particular issue for schools in a Multi Academy Trust (MAT)?
It is an issue where a MAT makes the decision to cut staffing and the individual Academy Headteacher has no say in the matter. Especially where the CEO is on a very high salary.

It is an issue where a MAT sacks all of its support staff and tells them they can apply for their old jobs but on a lower salary. What does that do for morale in an individual Academy?

It is clear to everyone that an individual Academy Headteacher no longer has any power. It undermines their authority, autonomy, and their job satisfaction.
It is an issue where the CEO (Lord Nash) can give his own unqualified daughter a job as a teacher in his own schools on no pay, and let her appoint staff and write the History curriculum for the qualified teachers. Will we be replacing all qualified teachers with freebies courtesy of the CEO's gene pool?

The issue is one of power and who makes the decisions.

If YOU are a Headteacher in a MAT, YOU are now the organ grinder's monkey.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Improve Teaching the Lord Nash Way

It is reported here in the Guardian that Schools Minister Lord Nash is "employing" his own daughter Josephine, to teach in his Academies. I place the word employing in inverted commas because Josephine does this for free. She has no teaching qualifications to teach History to years 6, 7, and 11, but because she does this for nothing I guess some people might think this is OK.

Well some of the parents of the children taught by Josephine don't think it is OK and they have complained to the Academy Trust. So I guess Lord Nash will have to raise it in a board meeting, talk to himself, and then decide if he is going to tell himself off. As the board mainly comprises Lord Nash and his wife, I think we can all guess what the outcome of that discussion might be. As Lord Nash does not believe in having parents on the board of governors in his Academies I think we can all see how much weight he is going to give to parents' views.

Josephine is also writing the History Curriculum for the Academies in the trust and in her spare moments she appoints staff to the Academies.

If you were a hedge fund manager who gave loadsa money to the Conservative Party, you probably expected to be handed a peerage and then to be given an unelected ministerial position in government, followed by 4 state schools for free. So letting your own daughter teach History to some of the kids, and letting her appoint your staff, seems perfectly normal.

Well to some of us it feels like the worst type of nepotism. Apparently it is all totally legal. Of course Lord Nash is responsible for writing the rules on Academies so no problems here.

What would OFSTED think? Well, Lord Nash has prevented OFSTED inspecting Academy chains, so no problems here either.

Other Opportunities
I started to wonder how this approach might work in other areas of work.

Perhaps a Police Chief Constable could let his civilian daughter loose in a squad car, or let her arrest a few criminals on a Saturday afternoon. After all, everyone can drive a car and we have all seen drunks at the weekend.

How about a hospital trust CEO getting his non-doctor son do a few operations. They are technically his trust's patients so they probably wouldn't mind being operated on. The trust CEO has mentioned many details about operations over the years at the dinner table and his son is a quick learner. Executives know that learning from mistakes is an essential part of life (and death).

Thank you Lord Nash
I'm sure dear reader that you can think of many other examples. We should thank Lord Nash for bringing the skills he has learnt as a hedge fund manager, into our state education service. It will save a lot of money in teacher costs in the long run and Lord Nash obviously knows a lot about the power of money.