Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Targets are bad for your health

OK, as my regular vistors will know, I spend a lot of time grinding my teeth over the misuse of statistics, targets and league tables. Last week I read this brief posting from geepeemama, that could have been devised as a demonstration of the fallout from stupid targets, and how they can produce precisely the wrong effect (in this case in the NHS.) Read it.

I don't think stupid is to strong a word.

Still here

Sorry I haven't posted for a while. It's been one thing and then another. Staff absence, which always slows me down. Plus half term, and - drum roll - a trip overseas with 30 sixth-formers. I've never done it before. I have never been so tired in my life.

To fellow teachers who know exactly what a trip like that entails, I would describe the week as fantastic, a real pleasure, hard work but worth it. The students' delight in the places we visited multiplied my own ten-fold, and they made us proud with their good humour, their insight and their good manners.

However, to those who accuse me of having (almost) free week in the USA when I should be working, I would describe it as a 24 hour a day ordeal of health and safety worries, relentless chivvying and mammoth organisation. A nightmare. I still haven't recovered.

So take your pick...

Anyway, now I have broken my silence, albeit to say not very much at all, I will try and get back to more regular posting.

One more thing - bravo to Brighton for allocating places at oversubscribed schools by lottery. A brave and fair move.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Everyone should read this...

This account by a teacher in an inner London school is serious, important and ultimately moving. Those who read some of the angrier teacher blogs will not be surprised by any of it. A school like this needs support and the teachers in it need encouragement and respect. Condemning a school with problems like these, without offering solutions, simply leads to a culture where schools hide their weaknesses and pretend everything is alright.

We need serious, well funded alternatives to short and long term exclusion: heavy duty pupil referral units where student behaviour can be confronted. If they worked, the cost would surely be less than future prison sentences for many of these young people. When the only sanction we have left for violent pupils is to ask them to go home and watch TV for a few days, we have effectively given up on both the possibility of change for those students, and the establishment of a safe environment in our schools.

(Government figures reported here)