Dear Nicky…. An Open Letter

3D Eye:

Highbury Grove School in Islington has a very special place in my personal and professional memories. Back in the wild and whacky days of the 1970s I was sent there by the ILEA for a stint as an unqualified supply teacher. I’d assumed supply teachers were moved around from school to school to cover for staff absences, but no – I was there for the duration. On account of staff shortages as well as staff absences there was a permanent pool of supply teachers which was to become my peer group and support group for several months whilst I was waiting to start a PGCE at Goldsmiths. I soon discovered why the Remedial Department was short of staff. And when the headteacher offered me a teaching post and said the school would train me to QTS I politely declined.

The school opened its fine new buildings in 2009 – 3Di had a brief look inside when we attended a meeting of the Heads Round Table there a few weeks ago. Tom Sherrington has been the head of Highbury Grove since last September. Tom has worked in a wide range of schools, including Holland Park Comprehensive and King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, before taking up this interesting and challenging post. He’s a founding member of the Headteachers’ Round Table and a well-known blogger and tweeter. He’s also prepared to speak truth to power, as shown in this important blog post which he addresses to the Secretary of State for Education.

For us this is a key paragraph:

“There’s a constant ‘gun to the head’ feeling that I could really do without. I was very concerned with the rhetoric being used in relation to primary Heads and times tables. I’m sure you have a sense that this job is difficult enough without thinking you’ll be sacked if the data doesn’t pan out as you’d hope? Personally, I feel quite secure at the moment. I’m new in post; I’ve got time and I’m experienced enough not to jump left and right every time a new tweak is made to the OfSTED framework. Actually, I feel Heads can and should step up to lead change with more confidence. But, as Secretary of State, you have so much influence in creating the climate where more Heads could express that confidence – not just hide within the safety zone of compliance. Please do all you can to set us free to unleash greatness. Putting the guns down would be a start. Take a look at OfSTED and let’s move forward on the intelligent accountability agenda.

We need a lot more heads, teachers and parents to join with Tom Sherrington in speaking out on the issues he’s raised – if we’re to achieve what’s right and equitable for schools, teachers, students and families.

GF

Originally posted on headguruteacher:

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Dear Nicky

Congratulations on your re-appointment as Secretary of State for Education.  Education Policy had rather a low profile in the General Election, but I’m sure  you’ll be returning to the DFE with renewed determination to put Education at the centre of the agenda for the new Government.  To some extent, you and your predecessor put enough changes in place to keep us busy for five years so don’t go crazy looking for things to do!

The examination and curriculum changes take up a lot of institutional energy and, above all else, we simply need time to get those things right. I’m actually quite happy about the move to terminal exams and the removal of the less robust elements of GCSEs: the ‘discourse of gaming’, as Brian Lightman has called it, never did us any good.  I’m looking forward to 2018 when all the GCSEs have converted and we’re not dealing…

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Ms Nicky Morgan unleashed! 

3D Eye:

We’ve long been aware of Tricia Kelleher’s willingness to speak truth to power and we’ve quoted extensively from a previous article she wrote about the government’s education ‘reforms':

Speaking Truth to Power – Gove’s Parallel Universe
https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/speaking-truth-to-power-goves-parallel-universe/

We’ve also enjoyed a visit to the Stephen Perse Foundation primary school and had a wide-ranging conversation with Tricia and her colleagues.

http://www.stephenperse.com/about

In her latest blog post Tricia says, “In this haste to whip the state sector into shape, I beg Ms Morgan to just take a moment to reflect on her language of discourse. Education should not be a battlefield with the person who is ultimately responsible for our schools speaking disparagingly about leaders in schools if they fail to meet a target set by Ofsted. I do not deny that there are probably many issues which require addressing, but to be sending in the educational equivalent of the SAS to pull a school up by its boot-strings has more than a whiff of a Hollywood Blockbuster about it. Indeed this belief in the efficacy of hired guns is John Wayne in a suit armed with data.”

Please take a few moments to read the rest of the post. We hope it encourages many more headteachers, teachers and parents to get involved in a national discussion about our education system and about the ways in which our government intends to direct and shape it.

Originally posted on stephen perse foundation:

Ms Nicky Morgan has been unleashed! Following the re-election of the Conservatives as the sole party of government, untrammelled by their Liberal Democrat coalition partner, the true-blue agenda for education has been unveiled by the Secretary of State. For Ms Morgan the solution to “raising standards” in our schools is an even greater dose of Gove’s academies and free schools. Her zeal is such that she plans to strip away the right of local councils to challenge forced academisation. Indeed, she goes further, planning to deliver on an earlier promise to sack Heads and Governors who fail to improve standards in “coasting” schools.

Where to begin with this radical declaration of intent from the Secretary of State for Education? Ms Morgan certainly means business and has a forensic focus on next steps. Like every politician, she needs to be “doing”. Yet in this haste to whip the state sector into…

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Young People Seeking Help for Exam Stress

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Many people reading an article in today’s Guardian will be appalled by what they see in it – but how many will lift a finger, or write a tweet, an email, a letter or a blog post about it? http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/may/14/calls-to-childline-over-exam-stress-break-recordsContinue reading

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Aspiration and Education

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The general election is over but politics returns to business as usual as we now go through five more years of Conservative government. Educators, including ourselves, will continue to press for changes to policy and practice, particularly in relation to … Continue reading

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The Values and Virtues of Character Education

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Last week, thanks to @SurrealAnarchy on Twitter, we read this article by Robin Alexander on “Character Education”. http://www.consider-ed.org.uk/education-election-true-grit/ It’s a thoughtful article that resonates with much of what 3Di has said over many years about the importance of personal and … Continue reading

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Creative Schools: “We need to call time on exam-factory education”

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“The shadow secretary of state salutes Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica’s powerful manifesto which opposes standardised testing and calls for a more inspirational approach to teaching” – The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/23/creative-schools-revolutionising-education-from-the-ground-up-ken-robinson-lou-aronica-review This post is a 3Di review of a book review. … Continue reading

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