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The Daily Shame | September 20, 2014

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Education isn’t just about ticking boxes and making money. Oh sorry…yes it is.

Education isn’t just about ticking boxes and making money.  Oh sorry…yes it is.

Yay!  OFSTED are going to scrutinize the schools in areas where they’ve uncovered less than good performance levels.  I can’t wait to see the outcome.   Also, I can’t wait to see how things will improve afterwards.  I mean…once the schools are given a helping hand or told to buck their ideas up, they’ll surely be producing geniuses in no time.

But what about other schools?  What about the schools OFSTED have missed?  What criteria are OFSTED’s reports based on?  If they’re based on test results and marks for coursework that teachers are responsible for disclosing, who can say if they’re really up to scratch?

Obviously, we’d expect the good and outstanding schools to be doing so well because the teachers are better able to teach their subjects.  However, once you’ve finished congratulating yourselves that you’ve sent your child to one of these excellent schools, take a minute to ponder this…

Are you being TOLD how well your child is doing, rather than SHOWN?  Do you see his/her work on a regular basis, or does a tutor, who probably doesn’t even teach your child, routinely present you with an A5 sheet of paper with numbers and letters on it?  Be honest, do you look at all those weird encoded grades and accept it’s best just to sit and nod proudly at them?

How much of your child’s coursework is actually written into exercise books or on to paper?  What about homework?  Do you despair at watching your child write one-word answers on to a wonkily photo-copied A4 sheet containing about four questions?  Are you surprised they’re allowed to type most of their homework into a laptop and spell-check it before emailing it to their teachers?  Does OFSTED really trawl through all those emails to check each child is actually learning what’s been taught?

If none of the above applies to you…heave a big sigh of relief.

If it does…you may already be aware of your child’s poor use of grammar and punctuation…not to mention bad spelling and lack of presentation.  As disappointing as this already is, you might still be wondering why the child you send to school every day is getting great marks and merits, yet proving rather less academically sound at home.

If so, your child could be attending one of those good or outstanding schools, where achieving just happens, regardless of the actual learning taking place.  Nah…that doesn’t sound right, does it?  Plus, we all believe what teachers say, because they’re teachers and we respect teachers!

And NOW Michael Gove wants our schools run as profit-seeking organizations.  For God’s sake, Michael!  As if our poor little over-worked peasant brains aren’t already trying hard enough to work out what’s going on…now this!

I’m wondering if the government’s been spending the taxes I pay towards education on something really silly like a new handbag…or maybe 20 billion new handbags.

Seriously now…unless these business boffins are totally committed to teaching our kids to a high standard, they won’t bat an eyelid at any of the silly old shit OFSTED waffles on about.  They’ll just be trying to find ways of coining it in.

Even if OFSTED alert them to serious problems they’ll still carry on trying to make a profit for ‘the good of the company’ and warn parents that, if ‘necessary’ cuts aren’t made, the kids will suffer or the school will be closed altogether.  OH NO!!

In no time at all, we’ll all be running round like headless chickens trying to raise money to fund school trips and extra activities, because the money earmarked for those things has been spent on something else or is, more likely, lining the pockets of whoever’s in charge.  OFSTED will be appeased in some way or another and it’ll be business as usual.  Yes…I really can see that coming.

Funny…I always see things coming, even though the government insists otherwise.  I must be psychic.  No, that’s the wrong word.  The word I’m looking for is suspicious.  Unfortunately, a lot of the time I’m right…and that really sucks out loud.

Just a few years ago, a primary school in a remote little town in Kent was placed in ‘special measures’.  This only happens when a school is deemed so poor it requires outside intervention from experts who are qualified to come in and sort everything out.

How did it get to that stage?  Well…it seems OFSTED were quite happy to simply ask the headmistress how things were going and not really do any digging.  This went on for quite a few years until, eventually, a proper investigation was made.  Hey presto!  A whole host of problems were found.

The school had been criticized for years by parents who were fed up with the headmistress blatantly running the school like it was her own little empire, rather than paying adequate attention to the welfare and educational needs of the children.  Unfortunately, with a glowing OFSTED report continually flying through their letterboxes, who could they turn to?

Even the school’s outdoor swimming pool hadn’t been properly maintained for years and was immediately written off as woefully unsafe for the children to use.  Where did all the money go?  Who knows?  However, the headmistress was very quickly ‘removed’ from her post and nobody has seen her since.

You see, OFSTED are great at looking through test results to determine how well, or otherwise, a school is doing, but they’re not always so good at delving right into a school and really finding out what’s going on.  Some schools given academy status have been rebuilt from the ground upwards to help promote new and improved teaching methods.  Look how shiny and new they are!

New and improved…yes, that’s nice.  Did you know some of these great new academies are being rebuilt without libraries?  However, they do have many top-spec laptops, computer screens and keyboards spread thickly throughout their buildings.  Gosh…sounds like a business already!  Anyone would think preparations were already underway.

Plus, what with pupil premiums being given to schools willing to take on free school meal children, there’ll be no end to the amount of money that can be raked in.  Yes, they’re obliged to show where the money’s being spent, but aren’t these schools already being paid to educate each and every child to the same standard, regardless of financial status?

Did I mention the tax I’m already paying towards my children’s education?

Many academies across the country can talk the talk with their stunning new builds and super-expensive computer networks.  However, walking the walk doesn’t prove so easy when these gleaming new structures accommodate exactly the same teachers and pupils as before.

If they were already good teachers and pupils…that’s wonderful.  Good luck to them.  If they weren’t, you’re not going to see much of a difference.

Yes, folks…some of these wonderfully suited and booted academy school kids may be more smartly dressed and have the means to learn at a much higher level than ever thought possible, but they’re still capable of spitting gobfuls of coke from the top deck of a school bus and writing fuck, bollocks and whore across the windows, using nothing but a half-empty bottle of Yazoo.  I suppose we should be thankful they can at least spell those words correctly.  Not really, though, eh.

Dressing them up as business women and men…in blazers and pressed shirts won’t change the fact they’re still kids…most of which are young teenagers eager to make their point in life.  If you keep them shut in a school all day like school kids, they will behave…um…like school kids, regardless of what they’re wearing.

Remember what it was like to be a school kid and feeling really proud when you first managed to write ‘piss off’ backwards in a perfect layer of condensation?  No…me neither.  <looks guilty>  Ahem.

Furthermore, it would be totally naive to assume all children who come with a pupil premium are out of control and as thick as two short ones.  Having no money doesn’t automatically mean having no manners or, indeed, no intelligence.  Wake up everyone.

If a school is prudent during the selection process, it can easily fill its classrooms with very well-mannered and eager to learn children, while also playing the pupil premium system to the max.

Listen Michael…

Head teachers running schools like businesses is something parents are already pissed off about…and you want to go ahead and make it official?  Good luck with that!

Hand on heart…our local secondary school seems to be thriving since its promotion to academy status.  However, this could all change if they become embroiled in the government’s plans for the privatization of schools.

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