Opinion – Fabian Society » Three things that really matter to teachers – Andrew Old – Best Blogs Series – John Gelmini

I’m afraid that getting a subjective viewpoint on what matters to UK teachers with input from parents, pupils, politicians, the police etc., as Dr Alf suggests, is not going to do the job.

The state education system in the UK used to be number 1 in the world in 1960 and it has progressively fallen to 44th position during that time and to 29th position in terms of literacy and numeracy.

1 child in 5 who leaves state education cannot read, write or communicate and this rises to 1 in 3.5 in the Fens and on sink estates.

Effectively then many school leavers are unemployable.

We also have a situation even after Coalition job creation successes of there being 47 people chasing each vacancy and 75% of the jobs being filled by migrants.

The idea that we can have “learning for learning’s sake” any more really is fanciful.

Parents and a great many of the stakeholders Dr Alf lists have not the faintest idea just how far behind the UK education system is at state level ages 5 to 18.

The UK teaching profession with its differentiated teaching methods, “wow factor” and a recruitment system which involves pupils in the selection process know least of all.

The politicians do not address the question of worker productivity and exports(2 of the ways we can pay for improvements and create more jobs) nor do they look at just how un-competitive the country and the education system is when compared with Finland, South Korea,Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, France, Sweden etc,etc.

The Fabian Society may have a vision but it is not one which deals with these basic problems which will get worse as we automate, develop more expert systems, use 3D printing, use robots and offshore.
Britain’s teachers are for the most part not fit for purpose in this brave new world and must be replaced en-mass by non-unionized teachers of the right calibre who “get it”, parents from socio- economic groups C1, C2, D and E need to wake up to what is going on and the entire educational regime needs to be revamped on Singaporean lines with extra tuition South Korean style making for a longer but more intensive and immersive experience that takes the school-day up to 5 pm, excluding homework plus Saturday school for the laggards and intellectually challenged.

The UK, like Singapore, needs to calculate exactly how many scientists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, technologists, chemists and teachers it needs on a 5 year rolling basis, factor in drop out rates and then come up with a set number of university places. These would be allocated on the basis of actual results, a SAT and a demanding interview to the brightest students. Those who wanted to study things not needed by the country would be directed to study overseas and those who were not university material would be given vocational training following a longer period of National Service than would apply to University graduates.

People with practical skills of a non-academic bent would be “incubated” into self-employment or encouraged to “swarm out” overseas once they had language skills.

John Gelmini

Fabian Society » Three things that really matter to teachers – Andrew Old – Best Blogs Series

English: St James's Expresso Bar and The Fabia...

English: St James’s Expresso Bar and The Fabian Society Dartmouth Street. The Fabian Society was founded on January 4, 1884 in London as an offshoot of a society founded in 1883 called The Fellowship of the New Life. Read more: Fabian Society – History, Legacy, Current and recent activities, Current Organisational Structure, Recommendations for reform of the British monarchy http://encyclopedia.stateuniversity.com/pages/7291/Fabian-Society.html#ixzz0hqOhLO8j (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog was originally published in December 2013. The thread still seems very relevant, especially ahead of the UK’s general election.


This is a brilliant, MUST-READ article by Andrew Old and published by the Fabian Society. Check it out!

via Fabian Society » Three things that really matter to teachers.

This article was brought to my attention by a very dear friend and retired teacher. She commented that she would share the above article with her daughter, also a teacher. We had met recently and over dinner, I cited the evidence of the Opinion Fabian Society – Vision 2030. When I shared the link to the second article, I asked my friend if she wanted to write a guest blog about her reflections on teaching. She declined but did cite the first article by Andrew Old, which she had identified from the Fabian Society website.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a passionate believer in evidence-based policy. However, it is important to differentiate between objective and subjective evidence. The UK Government and many international agencies are obsessed with hard, objective evidence, like the international league standards. There is far less reference to the subjective experience of the key players in the education debate. These might include:

The perception of reality is often totally different when considering the subject experience of the different actors, especially when respective fears are introduced. Andrew Old’s article is based upon his own longitudinal and subjective experience, both as a teacher and a blogger. It identifies three themes that are typically ignored by the mainstream media and the political classes.

Personally, I identify strongly with Andrew Old’s three factors. I have seen first-hand, the enormous damage that politicians cause with their frequent and unstructured interventions in public administration. I passionately agree about  the excessive bureaucracy in UK education, including OFSTED. As I reflected on the challenge, my mind wandered to my two years as special adviser to UNESCO, in Paris. My conclusion, was that there has to be a better way forward. I also considered yesterday’s evidence on workforce skills from OECD.

I wonder what percentage of an average teacher’s work-life is actually spent teaching, adding value and on front-line services? Is it time for an Activity-Based Costing review of UK education?

Any thoughts?