Digital Natives and Analogue Missionaries (5/6)

So, on theat list of headline grabbers I gave before let’s start with the ones on the bottom of the list. 

  • Unregistered teachers might be teaching your kids!
  • These schools can set up their own pay scales, hours and terms!

Frankly I have time for all of these debates. These are debates about education in general and they do not need to be connected to state funded private schools. 

Anyone who has or has had kids at school knows that the school holidays and the duration of the school day is a real problem in a society of solo parents, or double incomes, or shift work.  The school day has stayed the same while the culture of work has gone through revolutions.  Why?  To me this has nothing to do with state and private schools.  If schools were able to talk to their communities about their hours of operation I’m sure we could work something out.  Schools, at the moment, aren’t allowed to do this.

The same with performance pay.  This doesn’t have to have anything to do with the type of school, but about how you reward master teachers.  We should look at it.  Why not?  In its cleanest form I can see that it must be possible to create a pathway in the teaching career that keeps good teachers in the classroom, but can continue to reward them rather than having them reaching a pay ceiling very early on, and then force them to consider moving out of the classroom into a deputy principal role to make more money.

Even the point about the registration of teachers could do with a look.  At the core of a school you need trained, career teachers who are registered and driving the whole programme.  On the edges of the core where industry or professional practice intersect with the classroom there can’t be any real reason why outside people can’t come in and teach.  I mean in the fields of art, dance, drama, hard materials, textiles, cooking, computers, PE, languages and so on.  A gifted teacher needs to be a person with experience, insight and a little charisma held accountable to a system and results.  I’d be happy for my kids to be taught by anyone with those three things (after the police check of course).  I wouldn’t be so cool with this concept in the core subjects from Year 1 to Year 10.

But here’s the problem.  It sounded pretty sexy when I said “where industry or professional practice intersect with the classroom” didn’t it?  Imagine that.  All these cool artists and designers and stuff coming to work with the kids?  Sure, but nobody wants to do it.  I mean for a whole year at a time on what a school can afford to pay following a curriculum.  So you are left with what currently happens and works fine.  Outside providers coming in and out, or working with schools on particular projects.  Actually quite a good system for all sides. 

Strangely, the government has not mentioned the idea of having most of these ideas in state schools.  They have raised performance pay.  That’s good.  If the union can get off its high horse it would be nice to have a sensible discussion about that.

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