Brian Lightman: Teachers are part of the solution, not the problem
Saturday 10 September 2011
As David Cameron says, we all agree that we need a first-class education for every child.
What we do not seem able to agree on – in the context of relentless changes to our school system – is how to achieve that. For years the pendulum has swung back and forth from standards to structures.
This year's news is all about free schools. They may or may not be successful. Time will tell. All kinds of claims are being made about what they will achieve years before any evidence about their effectiveness will be available. Even if the Government's predicted increase in the number of such schools materialises they will still constitute a small part of our education service. What parents really want is the opportunity to send their child to an excellent state school wherever they live.
I do not believe that we will achieve this by continuing to experiment with new structures and introducing a competitive market where some schools are set up to fail. There is plenty of excellent practice around the country and the real way to drive improvement is to ensure that it is spread. And how should we achieve this?
*Stop the continual denigration of our education service.
*Create a genuinely high-status profession who are seen not as part of the problem but rather part of the solution.
*Put more trust in school leaders who are committed to improving even the best schools.
*Allow teachers time to share ideas.
*Stop opening new schools in areas which already have surplus places.
Governments do not have a monopoly on the aspiration that our service should compete with the best. That is the kind of elitism every teacher in the country can sign up to.
Brian Lightman is general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders
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