Constructed by a [un-named] colleague, this is a more honest email for potential student teachers: Continue reading
Here’s a copy of an email that the DfE has sent to anyone registered on the School Direct (SD) applications portal. It is encouraging those who might already have applied for a mainstream PGCE to switch towards SD in an desperate bid to fill the many outstanding places on this untried, untested programme.
This email has caused quite a stir in the ITT community. It seems like a deliberate attempt to poach students from PGCE routes for Gove’s favoured SD route. It also contains many inaccuracies:
‘Competition for training places is high’. No! Not for a Schools Direct place. In fact, when asked a parliamentary question on the 24th April 2013 about how many students had been recruited, Mr Laws’ best answer was, “The National College for Teaching and Learning will be publishing data on how many applicants there have been for Schools Direct places starting in September 2013 shortly”. In private meetings, DfE officials have been pushed to provide this information and but have refused on countless occasions. It seems clear that they have massively under-recruited but do not want this news getting out at this point; it would clearly be detrimental to those students considering this route. But the key question is, of course, why is the programme under-recruiting?
‘You can train as a teacher with an expectation of a job once you qualify’. No! You can expect whatever you want, but all the schools I have been in touch with are not offering any SD student a job following their training. Many schools have been put off from partaking in this programme because of this DfE-inspired myth.
‘You could receive a bursary of up to £20,000!’ No! Only if you teach one of a very few shortage subjects.
‘Or even be paid a salary’. No! I’ve yet to hear of one school offering a training salary of the type that the old style GTP offered.
All this is very sad. The UK had a very high quality programme of HEI-led of initial teacher education delivered in partnership with schools. This has slowly been dismantled by Gove for ideological, not educational, reasons. Anyone who has been following this blog will have read the views of other significant people in the educational community who are warning of a crisis in teacher training if this continues. Recently, Professor Sir Robert Burgess, Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester, has written directly to Michael Gove about his concerns.
Schools Direct is the latest ill-thought through, hastily implemented, and pretty much unworkable idea that Gove and his new crony, Charlie Taylor, have come up with. Anyone with an ounce of common sense and knowledge in this area will know that it is bound to fail. Yet in another parliamentary question asked to Mr Laws on the 24th April 2013 he couldn’t even confirm that a formal external evaluation of Schools Direct would be commissioned.
Interestingly, of course, the email didn’t encourage students who had applied for Teach First to also apply and transfer for the Schools Direct programme. Funny that.
What should the leaders of our Faculties of Education do in response to this? Well, UCET did issue a response to this email (although today this seems to have been withdrawn from their website). My view is that all universities that are involved in Schools Direct should withdraw their staff and other resources from it immediately. We are only shooting ourselves in the foot by engaging with this scheming and manipulative approach to teacher training.
Whilst they are at it, all universities should refuse to cooperate with Ofsted until the obvious political bias of and influence on their work has been examined and removed. They are not an independent watchdog anymore and their judgements cannot be trusted.
Gove, Wilshaw and Taylor. What a damming testament to the state of initial teacher education in this country.
In my opinion, the ISM has done more than any other organisation in the UK to support the cause of music and arts education in our schools. For various reasons (which I won’t go into now), I find this slightly curious but I take my (proverbial) hat off to them for their work.
I would urge you to support their Bacc for the Future campaign. A recent correspondence from (see below) provides all the details you need. They reinforce a vitally important point that we all need to understand. Gove’s u-turn on the EBacc wasn’t really a u-turn on what you think it was! There was a difference between what he did a u-turn on and the requirement for schools to provide data for league tables that show how many students have obtained an EBacc. As we all know, this is still having a highly detrimental effect on the provision of music and arts courses in our schools across the UK.
Here is the text of the communication I received from the ISM. The deadline for the Government consultation is the 1st May and I would urge you to respond and make your concerns known. Continue reading
It was great to hear from Martin Said at Cramlington Learning Village yesterday. Here is his story about what is happening to Music in his school. Thanks Martin.
Don’t forget, I’d like to hear from you if you teach music in a primary or secondary school. Check out this post and please send me your story.
1. What is happening to Music at Key Stage 1, 2 or 3? Are there any changes in the number of hours for teaching Music, how it is arranged across the curriculum or integrated within other curriculum structures (e.g. on a carousel with other subjects, through topic/thematic work), etc?
Music is taught in a cross curricular project based curriculum in Years 7 & 8, combining music media and drama, the 2 ½ hours per week. Continue reading
This morning I’ve been tweeting extracts from this report, the DfE’s own analysis of the 2010 school workforce census. Whilst some might consider this excellent bed-time reading, it does contain some interesting evidence about key issues within the educational debate today, e.g. the academies programme and the differences between different routes of initial teacher education.
On academies, it was interesting to note that the average teacher in an academy earns less than their counterpart in a LA maintained school; but that academies pay the highest average leadership salaries across the age groups; teachers in maintained secondary schools are also more likely to have higher degrees that their colleagues in academy schools (I’m not sure that the two are linked though!).
However, it was the data surrounding teacher retention that really struck me as interesting. It confirms something that many of us have known for quite a while: students who train to be teachers on the Teach First programme only ‘enjoy’ short teaching careers. How short? Well, the report says this:
The teacher training route for secondary teachers played an important role in influencing the odds of leaving the profession. In particular, teachers with Teach First training had odds of leaving which were five times higher than the odds for those with post-graduate training (n = 170). This is not unexpected given the objectives of the Teach First programme to bring very able graduates into teaching for two years prior to entering another profession or occupation (although it is hoped that around one half will remain in teaching beyond two years). (p.89)
So, train with Teach First and you are five times more likely to leave teaching than if you trained in a more conventional (PGCE) route. In fact, training to be a teacher with Teach First is the largest single factor by which teachers leave teaching early (i.e. within 5 years). Here is the table that shows the likelihood or not of leaving teaching (factors above 1 increase the likelihood of leaving; factors below 1 indicate that person is less likely to leave teaching):
Although the figures for teachers leaving teaching after two years are not quoted in this year, the above quote is enlightening. The best that the DfE can say is that they ‘hope’ that 50% of teachers who have trained with Teach First remain in teaching after 2 years.
As an aside, hats off to our colleagues running graduate work-based training programmes, you are more likely to still be teaching after 5 years, by a small margin (0.8), compared to a traditional PGCE route.
I know some readers of this blog think I have a vendetta against Teach First. This is not the case. However, we all need to remember that Teach First is by far the most expensive and ineffective way to train our teachers. The sadness here is significant:
- Tax payers money could be better spent (remember, Teach First have just received £76 million to run their programme for the next 3 years);
- Teach First students don’t enjoy sustained teaching careers (with all the knock on effects that this has for the stability of an individual school’s workforce);
- Other initial teacher education routes and the universities that have provided them are suffering and many have closed or will close in the future (read my post on Sir Tim Brighouse’s views on this if you don’t believe me);
- Individual academics working in universities are afraid to speak out under contractual obligations that stifle freedom of expression and will, eventually, lead to whistle-blowing about shoddy practices surrounding programmes like Teach First (at great expense to those individuals who take that bold step).
But perhaps the thing that annoys me most, is that Teach First have the cheek to make a virtue out of such an obvious failing. Hey folks, enjoy a short career in teaching (after all, the teaching profession will be eternally grateful for your contribution) before moving on elsewhere to a proper career in industry, business or banking.
The Labour Government who facilitated the introduction of this style of teacher training, and the Coalition Government that has sustained it, should both hang their collective heads in shame. There may be a political consensus here at the moment, but I suspect history will not be such a kind judge.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this and if you feel strongly like me, please write to your MP about this shocking waste of money and the detrimental effect it is having on the wider ITE sector.
And if you work on a Teach First programme and are too frightened to speak out about it publicly, please feel free to contact me in confidence about your experiences.
Professor Sir Tim Brighouse is a teacher, professor and educator to whom everyone should listen. His experience of education across the UK is second to none, and he has done a range of jobs that most of us could only dream about. He is also prepared to call a spade a spade, which is a refreshing change for an academic in my experience. On the view occasions that I have heard him speak live, I have been impressed by his vast knowledge and wisdom, his ability to bring humour into different discussions and also his compassionate humanity.
For all these reasons, the publication of this statement by Sir Tim is an important marker in the current political debate surrounding initial teacher education. I would urge you all to read it carefully. For those of you that feel that I’m sometimes provocative, intemperate (just too grumpy) and perhaps prone to exaggeration, I’d encourage you to listen to this highly informed and well respected voice. These are some of the key points that Sir Tim makes:
- There is a Government-induced crisis in Initial Teacher Education. It is not the fault of the sector itself. It has been caused directly by ill-informed and careless handling of educational policy by Gove and his new puppet Charlie Taylor;
- There is no one person or central agency that can ensure a sufficient supply of of trained teachers nationally, or an efficient local distribution of training places covering all subject areas. The distribution of places is now ‘startlingly haphazard’;
- QTS is no longer seen as a necessary requirement for becoming a teacher in the English state education system (unless you work for a LA-maintained school);
- Charlie Taylor, the new Chief Executive of the Teaching Agency, is overseeing a new system (Schools Direct) that Ofsted believes produces significantly fewer outstanding courses in teacher education;
- Many universities have now lost all their PGCE provision and are wholly reliant on schools choosing them to partner with for School Direct places (and what happens when they don’t);
- Many universities have, or will, withdraw from the provision of ITE and PGCE type provision because it is both financially and politically too unstable and too risky to carry on their involvement;
- Partnership approaches between universities and schools have been the bedrock of the UK’s provision in this area for years, but this is no under threat. HEIs bring much of value to this partnership that, once undone, will not be easily replaced.
I expect that Gove will dismiss Sir Tim’s paper as more ‘yada yada’ from a leftist academic. However, I would encourage you to read Sir Tim’s paper carefully. It comes from a responsible and respected pillar of the UK education system whose opinion we should take very seriously.
I think it is fair to say that the production of the proposed National Curriculum Programmes has been one of the most political processes in the history of the National Curriculum. As I wrote about in a previous post, even in the production of the original National Curriculum the Secretary of State for Education at the time was at pains to try and keep some political distance from the process. For Music, this meant that key academics like Keith Swanwick played a prominent role in co-ordinating responses.
Not so today. Gove’s imprint is all over these reforms, with charges being made (in the New Statesman) that he actually wrote the History PoS himself (something that he has not refuted). This week, I read outrageous stories of Gove’s direct political interference relating to the production of the ICT programmes of study.
For Music, we are still none the wiser as to who wrote the actual Programmes of Study. Perhaps I should open a book? Equal odds on Dick Hallam or a faceless civil servant within the DfE perhaps? Continue reading
Sean Gregory’s recent piece in The Guardian interested and infuriated me in about equal measure. I’ll start with the bits that interested me.
First of all, I’m always interested to hear what musicians, composers, artists and others (even conductors) think about music education. Their viewpoints are often provocative, stimulating, curious, anecdotal, often lacking in any ‘evidence’ beyond their own experience, but still engaging and passionate. They can put their fingers on key educational issues without the associated baggage of broader considerations of educational theory. Clearly, to me at least, this is a double-edged sword that needs to be handled carefully. Unfortunately, in today’s highly politicised educational climate this sword is being mishandled by many.
The much heralded El Sistema social movement was at the foundation of the event that Gregory was reflecting on in his piece. It coincided with the visit of the Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic to the UK and, not surprisingly, the effusive praise for the Venezuelan movement is still being voiced by music educationalists such as Dick Hallam and others (who, at great expense no doubt, have all been out to visit Venezuela to see first hand what is going on).
This is where my infuriation began. I’m not sure that we need lessons from Los Angeles, Venezuela, the Guildhall or the Opera House about school-based music education. Many of things that Gregory talks about in the second half of his article are being done, perhaps a little too sotto voce for my liking, in primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities across our country already. Let me illustrate this by reference to some of Sean’s comments. I find it amazing that he can write things like this: Continue reading
Second off the blocks in my request for stories about music education in schools across the UK was Andrew Lindley. Andrew works in a primary school and, as with the previous story, his was a very positive response. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Andrew (and James). Here’s Andrew’s story: Continue reading
A few days ago I invited music teachers from across the UK to contact me and tell me about what was happening to the music provision in their school. This followed a similar venture last year (the results of which you can read here). If you work in a primary or secondary school, please do email me your responses to the four questions.
I’m delighted to say that the stories have become to come in. First off the blocks was James Manwaring, Director of Music for The Windsor Upper Schools. His was a very positive story: Continue reading