‘Most parents just want a good primary with happy pupils. Not a curriculum dredged up from the 1950s’

6th October 2016 at 16:47
Colin Harris on community schools
I have several questions for parents when they’re choosing a school. Mostly it turns out that what they want from a school is the same as the teachers, writes one educationist

We all know the definition of the term 'fragmented’: Broken into pieces.

How sad it is that this is the term most commonly used to describe our education system in 2016. Government policy over recent years has led to this, a system that has undoubtedly become divisive, hierarchical and seemingly based on dogma from a bygone era.

It would appear that this will continue if grammar schools make a comeback. Sadly these are not just my opinion but those of so many eminent educationalists.

How have we become lost? Have we forgotten who should be at the heart of the system? Both our pupils and their parents.

So what do parents want from a school?

  • Some really will want a narrow focus on English and maths, the “It was good in our day Brigade”. That’s up to them
  • Some will purely look at the test results and what Ofsted say
  • There are some who look at the quality of leadership on offer
  • Some sadly listen to what others say about a school
  • And of course some want their child to go to the school they went to

But then there is the majority of parents who want their child to go to a school which provides a good standard of education, with a wide and varied curriculum: the kind of school which at its core is a strong ethos and the requirement that children are happy.

This school will teach a good work ethic, and excellent self discipline and strong communication skills, in fact they will be able to take on all that their future lives throws at them.

To these parents, I simply ask

  • do they want a system run by faceless bureaucrats who do not really engage with teachers parents or the pupils?
  • do they want a system where we have so many types of school we become confused: Be it 'free' or 'academy' or 'grammar' or whatever it is tomorrow?
  • do they want a school where pupils are purely numbers?
  • do they want an education based entirely on a test score and Ofsted grading?
  • do they want their child's and schools achievements continually undermined by the government and media?
  • do they want a system in which all “new” ideas seem to have beeen dredged up from government policy 40 or more years ago?

I think the answer is an emphatic NO. What they all want is a good school in every community. They want to see their school and the school praised on the effort they put into their work. They would like to see the government and education system working together to achieve success.

Overall they would like to understand the system and not feel a bit-part in it. Is this really too much to ask...?

Colin Harris is a former primary head and is now supporting teachers and headteachers

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