Monday, 5 April 2010

On the back of an Envelope

On the back of an envelope, on a train journey north, Andrew Adonis [minister, Lord, not elected] wrote the word, "academy" and thus gave a new form of schooling to [then PM] Tony Blair.

On the back of an envelope, Ed Balls [present UK Education Minister], seems to have have written the words, "National Challenge" presumably in some desperate search for accountability.

On the back of an envelope someone at Education Leeds, Leeds' very own under-qualified, overpaid private education company, must have written the words, "educational hub". Meaning? Who knows?

Like hundreds of thousands of my colleagues, I always wanted to be a teacher, I took my degree at a university, then I did a few years at the university of life, then I took my teaching certificate also at a university, then I read some more books, went on courses, and listened to and observed the children that I was teaching. And like, all those colleagues of mine, I tried to make myself the best teacher I could.

Teaching brought with it long summer holidays, not for any good educational reason, but because, in the first place children were needed with the harvest. In my opinion, these do not benefit our inner-city children at all, but that's a debate for another day.

And while I was enjoying those long summer holidays, which curiously, were simultaneous with my own children's very, very long summer holidays, I recognised that they were my reward for working every night after said children had gone to bed during term-time. So, maybe, not that great a reward, especially not for the working single parent.

An "academy" is not an educational anything; it never figured in all the stuff I studied all those years ago; it didn't appear in any of hundred-odd training days that I have endured over the past couple of decades; it's not in any educational publications. It is simply the name for a mechanism to transfer some schools over to greedy members of the UK private sector who think that, without interest, commitment, dedication or experience they can somehow tranfer some meaningful knowledge into the poor children of the inner-city. Or more to the point, be seen to transfer some knowldege.

By the time the academy experiment has proved itself pointless and damaging, those who saw that there was money to be made out of the situation will be laughing all the way to their off-shore banks.

"National Challenge" has an emotive feel of academic rigour about it. But I would like to turn this challenge round. I realise that I can't ask councillors and MPs to put them themselves in the position of being abused children or just extremely poor and then try to do justice to their academic potential, but I could ask them to move to another country, let's say for a year, and take the equivalent of 9 GCSEs in another language eg French, Urdu, Arabic, Pushto, German, Shona, Polish, Czech, Russian, Portuguese. Even better they should move for the duration of this experiment with their English-speaking family, so that every evening and weekend they would be back speaking their first language.

Educational hub: the ink on the back of this envelope is not dry.

On the back of an envelope I sat down and wept.

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