Thursday, 24 April 2014

Newsnight, You and Yours, Teachers v Government:70 Years An Official Complaint

rally in Leeds Museum March 2014
Someone helpfully tweeted the BBC Complaints link, so I wrote this to them. It cut off after however many words,  and I cut some out, but most of it got through. [It's not polished, but I did have lessons to plan and family to recognise, and it needed to be sent as soon as.]
I am writing to complain about the presentations on the NUT and teachers on Radio 4 and Newsnight over past 2 days. Initially I was pleased to see the teachers’ conference covered so prominently on Newsnight, but it was a story about the “left-wing” [as in a minority faction of unrepresentative union leaders] taking over NUT leadership, and was really a story suggesting that the union did not represent its membership, nor teachers in general. Suddenly in the end, we find that the takeover is unlikely, so what was the scare story for?
In You and Yours the education correspondent, Gillian Something tried to minimise the effects and influence of the last NUT strike, in particular making much of how little was 12% of schools was. Well this was thousands of schools and thousands of families affected. It’s all in the spin.
Then there was R4 Wednesday evening at 8pm with a bizarre account of teaching thro the ages [even called Teachers v Government, and in which only the Government got the speaking parts] This was portrayed as strong and intelligent celebrity secretary of states who insisted on their “reforms” against union wishes, portraying teachers as unprofessional, as not having the children’s interests at heart. There was no mention of educational theory thinking/philosophy, text books, teacher-training. At one point Baker was asked, "Were the teachers wrong to object to X", "Yes" he said. I think a teacher being asked to respond to this particular question might have been an interesting piece of balance. But no.
In all cases Gove, in particular, is portrayed as successful and strong, and his random ideas are referred to as “reforms”. One programme described teachers as always complaining. At least You and Yours got a few on to talk about the joys of the job.
The situation in education is extremely serious. The BBC owes it to parents who are not in the profession to explain this situation honestly and with integrity. The highly motivated staff who have been in it for years and will stay, will retire and/or die in harness. The next generation will look see how enthusiasm and professionalism is rewarded and not go there. [Payment by results! What a joke, what an insult!]
However, I was inspired by the Lenny Henry presentation on the OU – not exactly on at peak time!  
Victoria Jaquiss FRSA - Teacher, parent, blogger, writer, ex-governor

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