The new president of the NASUWT teaching union has today called for an end to "command and control" in schools as she made her first comments after being installed in post.
Michelle Codrington-Rogers, who teaches citizenship in the same Oxfordshire school she herself went to as a child, became the first black incumbent of the union’s top elected post in a virtual ceremony online after the NASUWT annual conference was cancelled.
She said: “There is too much command and control in some schools, they are not businesses, we are not churning out sausages and we have to resist this model creeping into too much of our education system. The only way to resist this is as a collegiate teaching force.”
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And she warned that teachers were too often taking on the role of police officer, social worker, counsellor, nurse, and carer.
She added: “We can’t be made to pick up and fill the gaps of every failure in society.”
She said the creation of a “Premier League, football manager situation” in which headteachers were pressurised and often removed if they fell foul of Ofsted could mean senior leaders, in turn, pressurising teachers and harming education.
She said: “The heads take all the pressure and they can disseminate that pressure because of the system. The best schools are where that isn’t happening.
“If we are being expected to reduce to children to data and numbers on a page, when children are talked about in a homogenous way, where they are expected to be sausages, that goes against everything teaching is about.”
The 42-year-old, from Oxford, said she was “truly honoured” to become president.
She said: “For me, education is about empowering the next generation to be able to see how we can make the world better.
"It is about how we move forward as a society and as a species.”
Ms Codrington-Rogers said her school, The Cherwell School, in Oxford, had a “reputation for being free-thinking”.
She said: “We are one of the few secondary schools in Oxfordshire that doesn’t have a uniform.
“We are liberal in the positive sense and we don’t put restrictions on the children when it comes to expressing their thoughts and opinions.
"We are a diverse school and we want the children to challenge us in terms of ideas as well as challenging themselves.”
Chris Keates, NASUWT acting general secretary, said: “Michelle’s experience in teaching and as an active member and officer of the NASUWT will make her an excellent and effective national champion of the cause of teachers and headteachers during her presidential year.”