Sunday, 13 February 2011

Tripe: The unincomparable chasing the uncomparable*

The media has done so much in recent times to expose injustice especially institutional injustice. Why is it that when it comes to education, they don't seem to have done their homework?

It seems it's just a game to them. Where are the newspapers that stand up and refuse to print league tables? Surely it's obvious to anyone with half a brain that these raw statistics are meaningless on their own. And actually damaging; and damaging children and vulnerable adults [i.e. parents deseprate to get school choice right for their own children but with no proper information to go on].

I would expect papers to be probing, and more interested in establishing the truth; I have no such expectations of politicians, though, so Michael, my Gove of Little Brain, please press on with whatever rubbish you choose. History will prove you wanting, and sooner rather than later.

We, the inner city teachers of this country are under siege, under attack. We chose to go into the hardest places, deal with the rawest of situations, work on the educational frontlines, where deprivation and injustice walk hand in hand around our little city centres, looking for little people to scythe down. Before the Government inventing counting things as a way of evaluating them, our reward was what we did every day for a living.

Instead of a thankyou we find we stand accused. "Schools are failing children in the inner-city." No. Inner-cities tend to be areas of deprivation, and you could say, but I wouldn't, that inner-cities are failing to get their schools onto the top table. It's not the schools, but the tables that should stand accused.

And enter into this troubled world, the Daily This and the Sunday That, in search of prey and an easy story. OMG what fun could be had with a reality statistic!

So, let's try and help the newspapers in their search for a story. If you really want to judge how well a school is doing with the number of GCSEs without or without English and or Maths, A to C or A to G, then you could, for example look at all the children who started high school in Yr 7 on the first day. At City of Leeds, the school I know best, for example, in any given Year 11 there would be 40% of the students who didn't start on Year 7 Day 1. I realise that the Roma children and the Afghans are percolating beyond the ringroad, but, on the whole, these outer-city schools are perceived as better. and are therefore full.

So, for a start, compare all the students who have done a full five years. You could refine the search further by removing from the comparison all those in both schools whose parents pay for extra private tuition. maybe look at children who have to share bedrooms and have nowhere to work privately at home.

All I'm trying to say here, is that we already have local innuendo and urban myths if we want to rubbish a school. League tables of GCSE results barely scratch the surface of a school's worth. As most parents aren't trained educationalists, they look to the media for impartial observations, but, instead they get served up tripe.

I think you would find that once you started comparing the comparable, then the schools so cavalierly dismissed by politicians [Ed Balls in his letters to Education Leeds and Vince Cable on Questiontime to name but two], then you find City of Leeds School dancing on the top of the League Tables, and simultaneously saying what's the point.

*Stress the 3rd syllable of both comparing words to discover what they should mean.

No comments:

Post a Comment