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'Teachers and pupils alike need an education system with support, encouragement and empathy at its heart'

One celebrated primary headteacher bemoans the lack of trust that he believes is apparent in the government’s latest raft of reforms

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In cinemas across the country, we are again enjoying 007 saving the world in a fantasy land of inept politicians, action heroes and beautiful co-stars, with a plotline that constantly changes direction.

It struck me as I sat in front of the flickering screen that, although it may be missing one or two key elements, our education system has a number of similarities with the fantastical organisation that is Spectre. For instance, this week we again awoke to a struggle with more absurd decisions from our wonderfully sub-par political overlords. We were not emailed to let us know. No, we found out from the media: resits for Sats; the reintroduction of externally marked Sats for key stage 1; the creation of an "elite" team of 1,500 teachers to rescue struggling schools in coastal areas.

Two things immediately sprung to mind. First, how have we reached a stage where we receive major educational announcements through the media? Second, do the people who think up these changes also moonlight as James Bond scriptwriters? Because their ideas seem to have so little foundation in reality.

I have often suggested during my career that educationalists are not on a production line. We do not make bags of crisps or washing machines. We are real people working with real people in the real world.

Why can't we allow pupils to learn, develop and flourish in an environment that is not full of benchmarks, regulations and measuring? This would require staff to believe in themselves and in their pupils – and, surprisingly, in the government that sets the rules. The idea that continually tinkering with the system will lead to improvement is beyond me. Will resits improve the lot of children? Will Sats being externally marked do the same? No. I believe this will lead to the idea that teachers cannot be trusted.

And where are these elite teachers for the National Teaching Service coming from? Perhaps there is a belief that the latest government advertising campaign will do the trick? Or perhaps we will pay them more than other teachers, and then tell them they are the elite? Why not also bring in some “superheads” to go with the elite teachers who will have their schools cleaned by exceptional cleaners and caretakers.

I am not for one moment suggesting that we do not need quality staff in our schools. Of course we do, but they are not created at source or in universities – they evolve through working in good schools and in collaboration with other good teachers. When are we going to realise that teaching is an art and that the finest teachers daily perfect and hone their skills? These are teachers who recognise when they do well, but are never complacent and always push themselves to get the best from the pupils in their care. They also learn from interaction with other colleagues – and from their pupils.

These are the staff who actually work in the real world; the staff who know that sometimes the rough and tumble of everyday life gets in the way for both teacher and pupil. This is a time for support, encouragement and empathy – or have we lost these words from the education system?

If we want to drive up standards, let's once again recognise that our profession is organic. All the components that contribute to a young person's learning need to work in harmony.

I am old now and I can remember a time when teachers were trusted. I believe this is still the case in our education communities – it is the government that lacks any trust in us whatsoever, and that leads to us having no trust in them.

Let me, however, finish on a positive note: I have often been mistaken for Daniel Craig. Now who's living in a fantasy world?

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