Teachers need to be trusted to deliver results, rather than being dictated to by headteachers or policy-makers, according to Doug Lemov, the maverick US educationist and writer.
“I personally love teachers – respect and admire them above all else,” Mr Lemov said, during a one-off Policy Exchange lecture in London on Wednesday. “I don’t like it when teachers get told what to do. I like it when teachers get told what they have to deliver – an outstanding outcome in maths – and trusted to deliver it.”
In fact, he said, the best teachers rarely follow the rules. “Teachers are entrepreneurs,” he said, adding that they regularly come up with creative solutions to inner-city problems. “Often, what they are doing is the exact opposite of what it said in the teacher-training manual.”
Mr Lemov is the managing director of Uncommon Schools, which runs charter schools in the US states of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. He is also the author of Teach Like a Champion, which examined the classroom methods of high-performing inner-city teachers.
He was delivering the inaugural lecture in a new education series, organised by the right-leaning think tank Policy Exchange.
Addressing an audience that included many teachers, he said that there needed to be more opportunities for teachers to learn from one another. “There’s no achievement gap that some teacher, somewhere, has not closed,” he said. "Passing that on means that 30,000 – rather than 30 – children might benefit from that teacher’s methods."
And, he added, it is not only policy-makers who need to learn to trust teachers. Headteachers, too, need to work in partnership with their staff.
“There’s no one person who can make a school,” he said. “It has to be a team effort. Other people have to participate in the leadership of the school.”
Doug Lemov will be running his first-ever UK workshop in London on 9 and 10 October.