Monday, 14 September 2009


Further to my posting last week there have been 4 resignations from the teaching staff after results which did not fall in line with targets. Although in 3 cases there had been no indication of poor performance, and consequently no attempts to support it, the teachers felt it was better to leave than to face the harassment of the managers.

I repeat that I have no issues whatsoever with the removal of teachers who are demonstrably bad and who are damaging the life chances of young people. Nor would I have any compunction, as a manager myself, in dismissing chronically under-performing staff. After all, I may be a teacher but, more importantly, I am also father to 2 wonderful children. However, in the drive to increase GCSE results regardless of subject we are actually penalising certain subjects to the benefit of areas of study such as media, health and social care and sport. After all, there is a clear difference between a GCSE in French or Physics (hard and examination based) compared with the 4 GCSE equivalence BTEC Sport (easier and coursework based). Consequently, the latter meet targets much more easily while the former struggle to meet the unreliable benchmark that is set for them.

Of course, these problems disproportionately affect poorer areas, where young people are increasingly denied not only an academic curriculum but also the more intellectual teachers equipped to lead their aspirations. Whilst I do not decry the opportunity to study construction and hairdressing at school, I do lament the loss not only of the areas of discipline that allow poorer children to join the managerial classes, as well as the intellectual role models forced out by an insane targets system.


  1. As a recently qualified teacher my teaching experience is limited, but my life experience would suggest that this approach to staff management would in the long term lead to a disillusioned work force which will eventually vote with their feet....and in the long run negatively affect the standards they are purporting to improve.

    The situation at this school does raise several questions:

    1. What have the unions had to say about this? Work place bullying?

    2. Did SLT and appropriate line management offer support to the staff? Surely that is one part of the leader/manager role?

    3. Isn't it detrimental to the school to lose four members of staff so early in the term? Don't the best results come when schools have stable staffing?

    4. Is there some ulterior motive to this action other than targets? Budget-related, restructuring, personality?

    One final thought, a few years ago in the rush to 'improve' standards we were forced to offer BTEC for a core subject. However, we soon found that many of the local FE colleges would not accept the qualification, so we have now reverted back.

  2. Same situation at our school. Do they think we don't know any other teachers? I KNOW the teachers who are pressed to put kids who can barely write their own name through as 3s at KS2. Then we're stuck with "getting them" a level 5 at KS3, which we did. By doing all the work for them. By doing nothing after Xmas in Y9 except cramming for SATs. The repeat it all again for their FFT/D (we are one of the bottom-performing schools in England, yet are made to observe the "aspirational" D) GCSE results.

    I will vote for the first politician who publicly acknowledges that a huge swathe of the under-18s are basically very thick and have been raised in a manner that will make traditional education meaningless and difficult.

  3. Many thanks for the responses and it does not surprise me at all to see that such practices are in place in other schools. I agree that such a bullying philosophy may have longer-term implications but the SLT are under pressure to increase results in the short-term, hence the pressure on the more traditional subjects.

    As far as the wider staff are concerned, the unions have been pretty much silent. Of course, this may be in respect of proceedings in progress but I will make regular blog updates as to the activity of the unions on these matters.

  4. Your school offers a GCSE in French and Physics?? Now that is a tough combination!! Imagine having to master string-theory and then translate it into French!!

    Must be proof that standards are as high as ever with such tough courses on offer!