Enemy of the league tables

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
Outspoken new man on GTC proposes radical campaign to kill its 'government poodle' image. Dorothy Lepkowska reports

Pete Strauss, the Nottingham primary head who wants to abolish school league tables, did not give his national campaign the most organised of starts.

He hijacked the any other business section of England's General Teaching Council meeting to urge it to stop sitting on the fence and launch a campaign to scrap the annual rankings.

It was his first meeting as a newly-elected member and Mr Strauss, head of Walter Halls primary, found a seconder for his controversial motion only that morning.

"I bunged it in having earlier asked someone in the coffee queue to second it," said Mr Strauss. "I borrowed the chef's computer to quickly write it up and then got it photocopied."

Although members voted 23 to 17 against the motion at last month's meeting, Mr Strauss is undeterred. "There were more abstentions than opposition, which is a good sign," he said.

"A lot of members didn't know how to react as the GTC has already voted on asking ministers to review the tables. So there was a bit of confusion."

Mr Strauss now wants registered teachers to email council members letting them know how they feel about league tables.

"I have never met a teacher or head who thinks that league tables are good," he said. "David Miliband, the school standards minister, has told us you cannot get the 'genie back in the bottle'. What complete nonsense. The Government is failing to appreciate what a disaster they are."

Mr Strauss believes a campaign that draws together the widest coalition of support across education, will be unstoppable.

The former carpenter who turned to teaching 13 years ago feels the tables issue can transform the image of the GTC, which he says has become disconnected from the profession. Its support for a campaign against league tables would help the unpopular body win the hearts and minds of teachers and shed its image of being a government poodle.

Without such a campaign Mr Strauss believes the GTC will lose even the little influence it has - and, at worst, be killed off. "At the moment the GTC is seen as disappointing," he said. "Like the teaching profession generally it is seen as too timid and not robust enough."

Mr Strauss objects not to the tests but to the "shallow curriculum" teachers must employ to get the results.

He says he is anti-league tables not anti-GTC and is realistic about the time his campaign will take. "I have four years on the council. If at the end of that time we can say that the GTC has played a part in ridding us of tables then it will be a job well done.

"There is a wealth of research out there about the damage being caused. I want the GTC to release the funds to draw it together and mount a concerted effort to get rid of league tables.

"Until then, I will keep bashing away."

You can email the GTC at council.members@gtce.org.uk

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