The GTC hates league tables too

8th October 2004 at 01:00
As the proposer of the motion calling on the General Teaching Council for England to launch a campaign of opposition to school performance league tables, I was delighted to find virtually unanimous support from the 64 Council members for the principle of abolition ("Axe the league, says GTC new boy," TES, September 24).

It would almost be impossible to exaggerate the degree to which performance tables are loathed by the teaching profession (and increasingly by the wider education community which is represented on the GTCE).

The fact that the proposal was defeated simply reflected a disagreement within the GTCE about tactics. We virtually all agree the principle that the tables must be scrapped. The question is how we do it.

This is a debate to which the GTCE will certainly return. There are positive signs that the Government is changing course and moving away from its unhealthy obsession with targets, tests and tables.

The abandonment of imposed top-down targets and the restored role of teacher-assessment at key stage 1 seem to signal a move back towards sanity in education policy. Now is the time to press the Government even harder on league tables.

This question goes right to the heart of the GTCE's role. It is widely accepted that the GTCE has failed to capture the support of the profession it represents.

Most teachers either don't care about the GTCE or are positively hostile.

This was reflected in the very low turn-out for the election of this new council - only 10 per cent in most election categories - and in the return of a small but significant number of "abolitionist" council members.

In its first four years of existence, the GTCE has allowed itself to become disconnected from the profession it serves and represents. If the council does not take urgent action to address this strong sense of disappointment and disaffection, it will at best lose what little influence it has, and at worst, be killed off altogether.

Performance tables are corrupting the school curriculum and having a corrosive effect on teachers' morale. They do absolutely nothing to improve either teaching or learning. They are virtually useless in providing proper measures of school effectiveness. They harm the life chances of youngsters with special needs by discouraging inclusion in mainstream schools.

Those of us who work in schools have a responsibility to stop whingeing about the tables and do something positive to get rid of them once and for all.

For the GTCE, that means mounting a national campaign of opposition, drawing together the widest possible coalition of support from across education. Such a campaign would be unstoppable.

I would encourage any teacher registered with the GTCE who supports this national campaign against school league tables, to contact your council member now and let them know how you feel. Teachers can e-mail us on council.members@gtce.org.uk.

Pete Strauss Headteacher Walter Halls primary schoolQuerneby Road Mapperley, Nottingham headteacher@walterhalls.nottingham.sch.uk

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