Questions in search of an identity

6th February 1998 at 00:00
Q. What do people think of teachers?

"People say individual teachers are great, it's just collectively that we have this picture that they are not up to it." - representative from industry

"It's not really a question of money. In those places (France, Germany and Spain) teaching is seen as an academic job. There is respect." - teacher "They don't have the chance to develop their skills and see themselves widening their experience...as a result they become disillusioned." - civil servant

Q. What did you think of the TTA's slogan .. "Everybody remembers a good teacher?

I wasn't impressed. Everybody remembers that they were bloody awful. That is the trouble." - union official

"I think the TTA slogan is pretty good. But there must be others. 'Teaching saves lives' perhaps?" - journalist

"The slogan should read 'Everybody remembers a good teacher, they just forget to pay him or her well'." - union official

(They should have) real teachers really saying how much they enjoy the job." - MP

"(We should) try and market exclusivity, making it something that is less easy to get into. One of the mistakes was simply opening the door to everyone. " - school manager

Q. What about the unions?

"They are not a voice for the profession, but they are close to their members." - journalist

"They are succeeding as unions but failing as part of the education debate. " - civil servant

"I think the Labour Government has challenged unions generally and the teacher unions particularly . . .The message is 'put up or shut up'." - union official

Q. Is the Government on the right track?

"Sometimes, but the emphasis on numbers and measurables has gone too far. There should be more focus on the qualitative side." - teacher

"There is complete ignorance about what is going on in the educational system." - civil servant

"I think they are the right issues, but I'm not sure about the way they are being conceived." - school manager

Q What puts graduates off?...

"Pay, working conditions... the fact that you are dealing with society's ills." - journalist

"They have had a whipping from politicians and people like Chris Woodhead. " - representative from industry

"People I met years afterwards, who went into the City, said to me 'What are you doing now?' I replied, Oh, I am teaching infants'. 'What happened?' they said." - education lecturer

...And what turns them on?

"Making a difference." - student

"You can change someone's life." - journalist

Q Is the media guilty of teacher bashing?

"No. Are they responsible for Princess Di? It is parallel. They are not responsible, but I think they are instrumental." - union official

"The national media do see themselves as pushing a particular agenda." - civil servant

"Teacher bashing makes a good story because we all knew at least one bad teacher." - journalist

Q. What effect has the drive to quantify everything (league tables, benchmarking etc) had on teachers' status?

"It has lowered the status. They are seen as unfit to make judgments about members of their own profession. If you are judged from outside, then you are demeaned." - education lecturer

"There is no other way. It does not necessarily have any impact on teacher status." - journalist

"It is not the fact of inspections nor the laying down of standards that has been damaging to the profession, but how the outcomes of that... have been debated." - civil servant

Is the media guilty of teacher bashing?

"No. Are they responsible for Princess Di? It is parallel. They are not responsible, but I think they are instrumental." - union

"The national media do see themselves as pushing a particular agenda." - government

"Teacher bashing makes a good story because we all knew at least one bad teacher." - media

What puts graduates off?

"Pay, working conditions... the fact that you are dealing with society's ills." - media

"They have had a whipping from politicians and people like Chris Woodhead. " - industry

"People I met years afterwards, who went into the City, said to me 'What are you doing now?' I replied, Oh, I am teaching infants'. 'What happened?' they said." - education lecturer.

And what turns them on?

"Making a difference." - student

"You can change someone's life." - journalist.

Q Is the Government on the right track?

"Sometimes, but the emphasis on numbers and measurables has gone too far. There should be more focus on the qualitative side." - teacher

"There is complete ignorance about what is going on in the educational system." - government

"I think they are the right issues, but I'm not sure about the way they are being conceived." - manager

Q. What about the unions?

"They are not a voice for the profession, but they are close to their members." - media

"They are succeeding as unions but failing as part of the education debate. " - government

"I think the Labour Government has challenged unions generally and the teacher unions particularly . . .The message is 'put up or shut up'." - union official

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