Too dependent on being controlled

13th April 2007 at 01:00
TEACHERS ARE suffering from "Stockholm syndrome", a psychological condition named after a bank robbery where victims become emotionally attached to those holding them captive, according to the National Association for the Teaching of English.

Plans to give staff more control over what they teach could fail because teachers have grown used to being bullied by Government, says Simon Gibbons, the chair of the NATE secondary committee.

Writing in the latest edition of English Drama Media, the association's journal, Mr Gibbons attributed the Stockholm syndrome mentality to a 20-year process of handing over more control to ministers. The heiress Patty Hearst became the syndrome's most famous victim after being kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974.

The QCA is seeking to hand more power back to teachers by making the KS3 curriculum more flexible.

However, the KS3 tests posed a huge obstacle, Mr Gibbons said. This was because schools felt they had to build months of pre-test preparation into their timetables, which left little room for manoeuvre. While scrapping the tests was a solution, many teachers and pupils privately believed that topics which were not tested on were not worth learning.

"Could we survive in a post-SATs world with a freed-up curriculum and nothing but our own imagination and creativity to design something engaging for Year 9?" he asked.

"Would we want to? Or have we been so paralysed that we couldn't move ourselves or our pupils without them?"

Mr Gibbons said the KS3 framework, which sets out the secondary national strategy's guidance on how to teach the subject, also inhibited innovation.

His opinions will inform NATE's response to the QCA in reaction to the KS3 review.

Mr Gibbons does not appear to be alone in his views. Three years ago Jon Berry, one of the leaders of a planned NUT boycott of the KS2 tests, said many teachers were afraid of a life without tests. More recently, Derek Bell, the chief executive of the Association for Science Education, said some teachers would be nervous about increased flexibility at KS3 because they were used to following the QCA's schemes of work.

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