In your own time - Meddling parents, bye-bye Becta and shrinking kids

4th June 2010 at 01:00
'Free schools' and quangos get the thumbs down on the online forums

Just the thought of working in a parent-run school appears to be enough to give many teachers in the online staffroom nightmares.

After the coalition Government announced that it would be passing a bill opening the way for families and other groups to set up "free schools", SocratesSister posed the question: "Would you want to work in a school run by parents?"

The typical answer was a curt: "Hell no".

Florapost feared schools would end up run by the types of pushy parents who always felt the curriculum should mirror their child exactly. "It's about lessons being more fact-based if Johnny's a maths fiend, more creative if he's artistic, aimed at high achievers or strugglers, quieter or more kinetic - just however their child is."

Samjam1 said she could imagine "the playground mafia" at her school wanting to try to run it. "They do it now. At a governors meeting it was seriously suggested I should wear a wedding ring and be known as 'Mrs' - 'cos that will make me teach better, right?"

One of the lone voices in favour was primaryteach87, who is part of a group trying to open a free school next year. "I think it's a good thing that parents will be more actively involved," she said. "Most of the parents on our governing body so far are actually teachers as well."

And what about the criticism that parents will just get bored and move on when their own children leave? "It's not intended that the same people necessarily do it for ever," reasoned MeanAverageJoe. "John Lewis is dead, but the store still exists".

The announcement that educational technology agency Becta would be scrapped received a far more mixed reaction.

Several teachers wished it good riddance, describing it as pointless and gimmicky. "Can anyone tell me what it really did to improve standards in the classroom?" asked newtonsgirl, "Because I'm blowed if I know and I am head of our ICT department".

But others said they would miss the agency, praising its forums, its inclusion team and its work trying to close the digital divide.

george1963 was upset by the glee from some teachers over the closure. "Two hundred and fifty people have lost their jobs, affecting their families and their lives," he wrote. "Don't blame them for Government actions or politics - they, like us, are human beings."

Meanwhile, an unexpected work challenge faced mossyt. The merger of her school had seen her switched, suddenly, to teaching Year 1 instead of her normal Year 6. How should she alter the way she pitched her lessons?

"I think the kids are smaller," suggested Shifter, helpfully, "mind you don't step on them."

thirdtimelucky had a bolder solution: "Teach the same lessons as you did Year 6. Call it a Challenging Curriculum. The tragedy is, at my school that kind of crap might be believed".

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