I have played, I would like to think, a full part in our education system over the past 38 years. As such, I have seen many highs and many lows. Only now, however, do I think it’s essential for the sector to write to all parents up and down the country to state what is happening today to the schools to which they entrust the education of their children.
How about this for a draft?
As you drop your children off to their schools this week, are you aware that the teaching profession at the moment is truly on its knees? Every single teacher in those schools wants the best for your child, but – because of constant meddling from many external agencies – what should be a fantastic experience for your child is anything but.
Pupils are transported along a conveyor belt of continual assessment within the narrow curriculum now being offered. The ideology of the present government does not see your child as a wonderful individual but rather a statistical data point. The education system has become so fractured at present, it is hard to see how it can be repaired. And the recent Budget has done little to improve the situation.
Lack of funding and stressed-out teachers
As parents you should be aware of the facts, simply put and presented:
- Schools are facing a funding crisis which will affect every single child in this country;
- Some 98 per cent of schools will suffer real-term losses between now and 2020 as the government attempts to save £3 billion;
- This is at a time when numbers in all year groups are rising dramatically. Less money for more children!
- There will be a further narrowing of the curriculum. Courses, even subjects, will be scrapped. Your child will be taught maths and English but I hope they don't have a creative streak in them – because that will be about it;
- Your child will be taught in bigger classes;
- Your child will have less support, both academically and emotionally, than his or her predecessors;
- The buildings your child is taught in are set to deteriorate. The National Audit Office states that schools need £6.9 billion to provide basic provision. With the money set aside for grammars and free schools, that won't be forthcoming;
- As parents you will be asked to fund your child's education;
- It’s likely you’ll be subjected once more to a selection process for your child's education – and what a lottery that is;
- You will see teachers leaving in droves, as they are at the moment, driven out by excessive workload and stress. These are the teachers who haven't had a meaningful pay rise in seven years;
- As parents, you will have the frustration of seeing schools being built where they are not needed but where parents shout the loudest;
- Your child will be continually tested by a discredited assessment regime: this will likely affect their personal and emotional wellbeing.
So there it is, in a nutshell.
We have the most dedicated teachers I have ever seen in a system that doesn't seem to care about them. They suffer the most accountability of any profession, but why? To score political points. Our teachers are totally exhausted and their morale is at an all-time low.
They can be rescued – in fact, your child's education can be rescued. This can be achieved when you as parents stand up and say, "We want more for our children." We do not want teachers, exhausted, scared to enter the classroom or children lacking interest in their education. We want a system that puts people at the centre of all it does well, because education is a one-chance opportunity.
Parents, it's time to reclaim what is right for your child.
Thanks for reading this.
Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsteds were "outstanding" across all categories
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