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!
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?