Blog from Nov 14, 2008

Department Dementors On The March Again

One of the principles that shapes my philosophy of education is that teaching is not something you can ever get perfectly right. It's one of the things I like about teaching - there's always room to get better, new things to try out - and teachers in this imperfect field, being additionally hampered by being human, are imperfect too.

Hence my cynical reaction to the government's latest initiative to raise standards in "coasting" schools. What this really is all about is another egotistical "look-at-me" show for Ed Balls, as he attempts to pretend that he is "doing something about education" in the now traditional "No Child Should Be Left Behind Because Every Child Matters" vein of British, American, and doubtless many other countries' politicians.

What disappoints me is the way that media organisations like the BBC report these government press releases without question or analysis, and the belief by Mr Balls that the way to improve learning is by top-down reform.

The way to better learning has always been through passionate, enthusiastic, inspiring teachers who love teaching, not through teachers who track data. Alas, over the years, the standards-targets-objectives-testing-levelling Dementors from the Education Department, together with their compliant cronies in LEAs and Headships, have managed to suck this out of many teachers. It's this that is the problem, and Ed The Dementor has just made things worse.