It???s teacher bashing time

Image © Rob Gould @ Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

As snow falls across the country, schools have closed for a variety of reasons.  Frustrated parents are quick to blame the teachers (we all need a scapegoat) and discussion forums fill up with comments about lazy teachers.  Too soon the conversation changes from “why can’t they get to school?” to don’t they have enough holidays already.  I’ve even seen suggestions about teachers having inset days in their holidays (which is ironic since inset days did originally come out of teachers holidays).The press feel the need to join in with this teacher bashing, after all appealing to the public sentiment is what sells papers.  As I sat reading the Times today I read an article that made the hairs on the back of my neck bristle.  Not because of the subject of the article but the tone, and the glaring inaccuracies in the article that the times included.The article in question was a small ‘filler’ by their education correspondent Nicola Woolcock.  I managed to track down an online copy of the article here.  Apparently it is far too hard to dismiss incompetent teachers and so-called experts suggest that there could be 24,000 inadequate teachers, although Ms Woolcock declines to say which hat she pulled these figures out of.According to the article heads must give notice before entering the classroom for a formal observation, and can only do so for three times a year.  Of course Ms Woolcock is reporting the current agreed arrangements for performance management, many observations for which are not actually carried out by head teachers.  There is no limit on quality assurance observations which I am aware of, and I know of many heads who walk around schools and pop into lessons to see what is going on without giving notice.Of course there are teachers who experience difficulties.  One of my roles as an AST is to work with some of these teachers in my local authority.  It could be argued that it is difficult to sack incompetent teachers, although I suggest the true story should read it is far too hard to dismiss any incompetent public sector worker.However when I read I was struck by the lack of balance, and the emphasis on bashing teachers rather than on a balance discussion, but a balanced discussion doesn’t sell newspapers does it?