In seriously worrying about the future of state education in this country?

(38 Posts)
aamia Sun 13-Jan-13 12:26:28

As a teacher, and a mum, I'm worried. Part of me thinks I'm being unreasonable worrying, as surely things will turn out ok in the end. Part of me, having read the changes that academies bring (not having to follow national curriculum, no standard pay and conditions for teachers, influence by sponsors who will presumably have their own agendas, no LEA support so if the roof springs a leak, or a sink hole appears...) is really concerned. I am considering looking for a job in private education so I can get a reduction in fees and school my children that way, something which makes me sad as I have really enjoyed working in state schools, making a difference to children who don't have much support at home, seeing them grow and achieve their goals. We were planning on buying a house in an area with good schools. Now I think maybe we should save our money and just buy a nice house somewhere less expensive, then put the extra by for schooling.

So - aibu worrying this much? Do you think it will be ok? (Hoping desperately to be told it will be...)!

aamia Sun 13-Jan-13 12:29:08

Just to add, having read it back - I have always chosen state schools in disadvantaged areas, and enjoyed helping those in the class who don't have support at home (usually because parents are too busy working just trying to keep a roof over their heads!). I know schools in more wealthy areas are full of children with lots of support at home!

YorkshireDeb Sun 13-Jan-13 12:53:36

YANBU to be worried. I'm a teacher too & have always been worried about the way state education is heading (when I started 12 years ago I hoped I would see things improve but they gradually get worse & worse). I think it would take a very brave government and/or minister for education to turn things around now. Definitely not prize idiot Michael Gove! Since becoming a mummy 4 months ago I have a different aspect to my view on all this & hope I can find a state school with the kind of ethos I value when the time comes. But like you, one of the most treasured parts of my job is reaching out to children who really need support & not sure I could give this up. It's definitely a tough one. X

Bakingnovice Sun 13-Jan-13 12:54:40

I feel the same. My kids are at state primary school. But it's not very good. I feel I have to supplement a lot at home, and don't always have the time. We are also thinking of not moving house as planned to be near good secondaries (and bigger house, and family) but to use the savings for private education which I don't really approve of.

Dh went private all his life. I went to a terrible state school. We are both high achievers. He doesn't want our dc to go private. My db is a teacher and he lives his job but says he would never send his dc to state school because of all the changes and lowered standards.

FredFredGeorge Sun 13-Jan-13 13:00:34

Standard pay and conditions do loads to harm education, it means there's no incentive for the best teachers to teach in the worst areas, because they'll have a much easier life and cannot be rewarded more for working in those. So they'll work at those with the most support, increasing the division between good and bad, and increasing the difference in house prices between those schools which people think are "good and bad". By removing the standard conditions, they can be paid more and have a reason to help those with less support.

At least if the schools in poor performing areas can pay more or offer better conditions then they attract the better teachers.

Delalakis Sun 13-Jan-13 13:04:21

You're absolutely right to worry. I'm really concerned that we're going to see another mess like what happened with private nursing homes when big companies bought them up, asset-stripped them, and then disappeared when they had extracted all they could out of them financially. When that happens to schools there won't be any local authority safety net, because LA education departments won't have been maintained without any schools to supervise. It's a potential disaster in the making for hundreds of thousands of children.

YorkshireDeb Sun 13-Jan-13 13:20:48

Sorry fredfredgeorge - not trying to start an argument but I strongly disagree with what you said. Some teachers choose to teach in catchment areas that are more deprived, some choose to teach in those that have more affluent families & others at private schools. This is not because the best teachers seek out schools where they can be paid more - it's to do with our beliefs & our passions. In order to decide which teachers are 'best' to pay them more, there would be even more pressure on achieving good results - driving 'good' teachers away from the deprived schools & encouraging them to teach the higher ability sets within their schools. This, IMHO, would make the situation far worse, not better. What is your perspective? Do you teach? And if so in what type of school? X

stargirl1701 Sun 13-Jan-13 13:24:57

I'm a teacher in Scotland and just as worried although we're going in completely the opposite direction with regard to educational policy.

If it wasn't for the fact we are literally experimenting on real children it would be fascinating to see what happens a decade from now. As it is, I worry. The children are at the chalk face of radical change that isn't proven.

gordyslovesheep Sun 13-Jan-13 13:27:02

enjoy having qualified teachers - they will be replaced soon

YANBU - it is a big concern of mine

gordyslovesheep Sun 13-Jan-13 13:28:38

oh and the best teachers are the ones who's passion for education as a force for change motivates them to work in the most deprived areas - as my Grandfather, Mother and step father did

soverylucky Sun 13-Jan-13 13:31:05

I always get annoyed with the assumption that a school is bad because of the teachers. There are poor teachers in every school. There are outstanding teachers in every school. Private schools for example often take the candidate with the highest qualifications but that does not mean that they are the best teachers. Some are brilliant teachers and some are not.
What makes a difference to a school is the pupils and their families. A school with an affluent area usually means that the pupils come from a home where high educational achievement is the norm, where parents have the time, money and energy to help with homework and provide enriching after school activities like music tuition and can also offer the pupils a safe, happy nurturing environment. Not always but usually.
In some of the deprived areas there are problems that have a negative impact on a childs education. That may be poverty for example.

To answer the op - YANBU

Chottie Sun 13-Jan-13 13:32:12

I have huge concerns too. Everything is just down to the bottom line on a balance sheet now.....

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 13-Jan-13 13:43:18

I qualified about five years ago. It took me a while to find my feet in teaching but I love it - how lucky I am to teach a subject in depth whilst at the same time see young people at their funniest, warmest - challenge you, frustrate you and change you, somehow.

I started off in the state sector, but this year I started in a private school - somewhere I thought I wouldn't be yet. In the short three years I worked in a good state school, rural, lovely willing and friendly children, I became disillusioned with the state sector. I am so sad at what I saw happening.

Very good teachers - years of experience, undermined and not trusted, new initiatives rolled out and then quietly forgotten, OFSTED and it's rigid rules on 'progress' and what makes a good/ outstanding question - apparently having forgotten all the wonder and spontaneity at the heart of learning. An SMT obsessed with targets and borderlines and tracking and data, grades imposed on a child that were impossible, no longer trusted as a professional. In the very short time I have taught, I know 8 teachers in my collection of schools who have left through disillusionment or stress. They were fantastically hard working, and I learnt so much from them. Being told I am not a teacher but a "facilitator of learning" about summed it up.

Being in the private sector is no better or worse in some ways - there are many of the same issues. At least here I feel there is some breathing space, YANBU.

Corygal Sun 13-Jan-13 13:50:05

No. As it is UK state education is almost the worst in Europe. It's getting worse. What else do you need to know?

YorkshireDeb Sun 13-Jan-13 14:05:51

That depends entirely on your measuring system corygal. In what ways do you believe their education is better than ours? X

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 13-Jan-13 14:08:06

I don't think you are being unreasonable but I do wonder if part of the problem is that you have made life difficult for yourself (I mean that kindly, not critically) by choosing to teach in deprived area.

I am a secondary head of department in a fairly affluent school. The children aren't rich, mostly, but come from solid, working homes and most stay on to do A levels at sixth form. I cannot put into words how much easier and pleasanter my life is from my last job, which was dire!

For what it's worth, I'd personally never want to have my children in a school I taught at. smile

Corygal Sun 13-Jan-13 19:09:46

Yorkshire - it's the OECD's measuring system, not mine.

OECD is the Europe-wide surveying organisation that monitors and predicts, among other things, Europe's institutions and economics as well world growth, the world's health, you name it.

When you hear an economic growth prediction on the news, it's either the Federal one (US) the Bank of England or the OECD - ie the one people take seriously.

HollyBerryBush Sun 13-Jan-13 19:13:02

Ofsted frameworks scare the shit outta me. Having witnessed both a Y7 history class and a Y13 A level Bio class this week, I seriously think wikipedia would be a better alternative. (Im not entirely joking either)

I do a better job of educating my children than the system (and I make a marked distinction between the system and their teachers).

JMHO - teachers should be allowed to teach, not facilitate

>soap boxy moments<

Roseformeplease Sun 13-Jan-13 19:13:50

Excellent schools here in the Highlands of Scotland but some worries, as a parent and a teacher, about our new curriculum. FWIW, however, I think parents and their input have a lot more influence than teachers do. If you are interested and supportive it will go a long way, in spite of concerns about the school.

andtheycalleditbunnylove Sun 13-Jan-13 19:24:54

nineteen years in inner city comprehensives. will probably see the school where i work turn academy when the current head retires.

worried about changes eg to gcses/i b and wondering what will ever happen to the pupils who just aren't going to get five plus including english and maths, no matter how spiffing the teaching.

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating - you are describing 'my' school. which is sad because it probably means what you said applies in all schools.

Catsnotrats Sun 13-Jan-13 19:45:07

Corygal which OCED rankings are you referring to because they rank countries by at least 50 different measures. I suspect what you are referring to are PISA ratings, the most recent being 2009 (new ones should be published this year).

In these the following European countries ranked lower than the UK in reading - Portugal, Italy, Latvia, Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Croatia, Luxemburg, Austria, Lithuania, Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro and Albania.

Hungary was ranked equally with the UK.

The UK got a point score of 494 for reading (in a range of 556-314). Other countries with marginally higher scores are Denmark (495), France and Ireland (496), Germany and Sweden (497), Liechtenstein (499) and Poland and Iceland (500). The rest (5 countries) scored in the low 500s (i.e. 501-508). The only one that was significantly higher is Finland with a score of 536.

I'm not arguing that all is hunky-dory in the UK education system and that it shouldn't be improved, but it isn't 'almost the worst in Europe'

Redbindy Sun 13-Jan-13 19:51:11

You are right to be worried. The quality of education of kids leaving school has been a concern for years. The first place to start in remedial action is the teachers. Pay them properly, make sure they have Masters Degrees and get rid of the idiots.

crypes Sun 13-Jan-13 19:51:13

Im wondering if Secondary schools have moved on at all since i was at School in 1980 (which was truly awful). My DD in year 7 is already saying there are subjects and teachers she dreads, even a whole day in the timetable she dreads! why? A child should want to go to school and be excited by it.

mummysmellsofsick Sun 13-Jan-13 19:52:58

Yanbu. Both dh and I teach, I've already moved to the independent sector and dh is now considering it despite his ultra left wing views. Teaching in an academy is making his life not worth living.

Giggle78 Sun 13-Jan-13 20:20:59

I have seen a decline in all sorts of things in the last ten years of being a teacher. Partly the climate of fear based on being a good or bad results has had a negative impact on teaching. Now we (me) spoon feed students so much they don't think/have the same independent ethic that I found even five years ago. This is not good for them in the long term regarding taking responsibility for themselves.

Don't get me started on the cuts to the arts in schools....

Don't get me started on 'unqualified teachers'. It takes five years to be fully qualified.....that is not nothing. Plus the training when I did it was rigorous.

I am going on maternity leave this year but when I go back I am going to do everything I can to get an independent job so my oldest son can go to a private school. I am sure that there are just different problems but the small class sizes and facilities are swaying me.

meditrina Sun 13-Jan-13 20:33:47

It seems illogical to make a stand against the greater independence (and freedom from LEA control) if academies/free schools by thinking (as you said in OP) of going fully private.

Are there any LEAs which are resisting academisation and still opening schools under their own control? As you say you can move, maybe those such areas are the places to head to.

MrsWembley Sun 13-Jan-13 20:33:52

Didn't I hear someone saying the other day on R4 that the system has been in decline for decades?

Now I've only been in the system a short while (trained 06/07, taught two years then left to have DCs) but I do remember loving teaching those in most need, that I will agree with. Probably because, as an NQT and such, I got given the lower ability classes and so saw how easily the rot sets in early.

However, I think that the kids at the lower end of the spectrum don't necessarily come from the 'disadvantaged working class'. I taught a yr 11 boy, who was perfectly competent, even good in parts (excellent when given free reign) but whose behaviour and attitude meant that he got sent out more often than not and ended up failing my subject and most of his others. His father, as I understood it, a middle-class businessman, never once returned my phone calls to discuss how we could work together to help his son. I had many phone calls and several meetings with ordinary, working class 'disadvantaged poor' and found most of them more than willing to help their children do as well as they could in school. Those were the children who got something out of their time in class, even with an inexperienced newbie like me.grin

If we're going to worry about the future of our schools we should look at attitudes at home towards education, not just government policy and teaching standards. They all work together to form a basis for children to love to learn, which they will then take outside the classroom and follow through in their adult lives. I have a theory that smaller schools will improve things somewhat, in helping to improve behaviour, so improving the actual time spent teaching rather than just herding cats.grin But it has been pointed out to me that some large schools have had very good records of behaviour and grades. These schools did tend to be full of kids whose parents and teachers cared.

Sod the policy makers, whatever colour, they'll screw it up somehow. But if the community can work together it'll produce the next generation in a way we can be thankful for. If parents go around saying, 'nuffin' to do with me, mate, it's all the government's fault', then what hope is there for any of us?hmm

<puts soap box away and goes in search of TES to catch up on what's been happening recently>

googlenut Sun 13-Jan-13 20:35:03

So can you please say for those that are not teaching - what do children get in independent schools that is so much better than state schools and what is so dire about academies?

Catsnotrats Sun 13-Jan-13 20:44:22

From a teacher's perspective, independents tend to have a lot more professional trust in their staff and value the importance of developing the whole child rather than being obsessed by exam results and Ofsted ratings. You also tend to have less disruptive pupils (although it really depends on the school). Oh and the holidays tend to be better too wink.

ReallyTired Sun 13-Jan-13 21:03:43

I think that allowing academies freedom from the national curriculum will help to raise standards. In the past schools have been in far too much of a straight jacket, its ridicolous to expect an MLD special school and a grammar school to follow the same curriculum.

I am glad that GCSEs are being got rid of. The amount of dumbing down has made it hard for our children to complete against immigrants in the workplace. Science at secondary schools have been a disaster. I am glad that they are actually going to learn proper maths and science rather than sitting discussing "issues" with the "21st century science" curriculum which has been taught in many schools.

I am not sure what to think about the dismantling of local authority control. However many academies are forming federations which are similar to an LEA. The big issue that I can see is making sure that every district has enough places. Unfortunately free schools are often set up where there is already a surplus of places.

Many of these changes are completely untested. It is too much too quickly.

amicissimma Sun 13-Jan-13 21:14:27

Standards (compared internationally) in UK schools have been falling for at least 15 years. Something, other than just throwing money at the problem (already tried by last government) has to be done. Current government is implementing changes started under previous one. It looks like all 3 parties have concluded that they might help.

One difference I have noticed between state and independent sectors (from anecdotal evidence and a fairly small sample size) is expectations. Several friends with DCs at state schools have complained that DCs have been encouraged to drop subjects they find difficult. Friends using independent sector report that DCs are encouraged to try ever harder and are given support for subjects they find hard.

Catsnotrats Sun 13-Jan-13 21:14:52

'its ridicolous to expect an MLD special school and a grammar school to follow the same curriculum.'

Well fortunately they don't in the sense that schools are expected to meet the needs of their pupils by differentiation. All special schools that I have encountered have a curriculum that is quite different to what I teach in mainstream.

The national curriculum is quite broad in its current spec. Itis a minimum requirement, so if schools want to teach things in addition they are perfectly entitled to.

What constrains us most is tests and the relentless results-driven culture. I teach year 6 and a large part of what I do sadly is teaching children to pass a test rather than developing deeper-level knowledge and skills. Academies have exactly the same pressure on them in this respect as community schools.

Catsnotrats Sun 13-Jan-13 21:21:50

'Standards (compared internationally) in UK schools have been falling for at least 15 years'

I know what you are trying to say, but i think you need to word it more carefully! Standards aren't falling in the UK, what is happening is more countries are being included in international comparisons and many countries are improving at a faster rate. However as I said in an earlier post the difference between us and many other Western European countries is actually negligible. Again I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive for improvement, but that the situation is not as dire as the media (and government) often portrays.

dayshiftdoris Sun 13-Jan-13 22:00:33

You are worried about the future?

From what I have seen the problems are in the here and now... Children have been being failed for years and years...

I have no idea if the changes will make things better but something has to change.

Samnella Sun 13-Jan-13 22:07:46

not having to follow national curriculum, no standard pay and conditions for teachers, influence by sponsors who will presumably have their own agendas, no LEA support so if the roof springs a leak, or a sink hole appears...)

But is that not the same of prviate schools?

sparkly you've just confirmed why I left teaching last year. I miss the kids like hell, but you are bang on about the rest of it. So, so, so depressing. So bunnylove you may be right. sad

I'm only supposed to be on a 2 year SAHM break. The way things are, I honestly don't know if I want to go back.

giveitago Sun 13-Jan-13 23:18:19

I'm not a teacher but a first time mum. I'm so very very worried about the direction of our education.

My LA is saturated with faith schools and a couple of grammars (the only one my ds could apply to has a catchment area of the entire nation). country).

It's touted as giving people more choice. Oh yeah?? Who in particular?

I'm from a multiracial and multi faith background. The last time I looked (and I'm a middle aged woman) the way we did it was to be MULTICULTURAL. So now I'm supposed to sign my kid up to the ethos of one particular religion?. I sometimes feel I'm the only person who thinks this is bonkers. It's not the way I grew up.

I couldn't care two hoots about what faith (if any) is taught in which school. Just the fact my son is excluded precisely because he's truly multicultural. Yet my tax is going to fund an increasing amount of school places my ds doesn't have access to because he's not of the right cultural fit. What an odd way of school selection.

My dcs have to take on one particular bit of their ethnicity just to get a f'cking school place in our community? Goodness.

We all want more for our kids that we have but I can confidently say my ds has far less opportunities within our state education system than I had back in the 1980's and the way things are going he won't get to a decent uni like I did for love nor money. Quite a bit of this has to do with selectivity down to ethnicity (aka faith schools) and the rest down to our increasing divisions in society.

I'm disgusted and I'm also scared.

Andro Mon 14-Jan-13 00:05:25

Very reasonable OP in my opinion.

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