Ignore our views at your peril...

12th November 2004 at 00:00
I recently went to a seminar on the topic of the moment, personalised learning. At the seminar - attended by researchers, heads and civil servants, a policy-maker proudly stated that she was exploring the concept of personalised learning with a group of headteachers. I asked if practising classroom teachers had been invited to join the group: the answer was "no".

The policy-maker explained that there were insufficient resources to extend the consultation to teachers - even though they are the very people who will be making the concept a reality in classrooms.

I am afraid that this failure to consult with teachers about issues that directly affect their practice and pupils' learning is all too common. The voice of the classroom teachers is being sidelined.

This problem was clearly displayed this week, when members of the Secondary Heads Association-led post-qualification application working party stated confidently that there would be no implications for teachers if their students took A-level exams in the summer half-term week.

Teachers, they said, would not have to be in school as they would not be required, as a result of the workload agreement, to invigilate the exams.

I was amazed at this argument (notwithstanding the absence of a teacher on the working group). How many teachers, I wondered, would leave their students without the moral support of their presence in school during an A-level exam?

And what teacher would not see it as their professional duty to be in school as the papers were opened to check that the questions set conformed to the syllabus and were of an appropriate standard?

Lessons must be learned.

Policy-makers must have "the big conversations" with classroom teachers - or risk talking only to themselves!

Mary Bousted is general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Leader 22

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