Where is the care in our schools?

I was talking to the headteacher of a primary school the other day. She’s been in the business many, many years and seen the many changes. Some of which are good, she says. They make us better teachers in many ways as we have to be more analytical of what the kids are learning each lesson making us sharper in what we do.

But equally there are aspects of this which are not so good, she adds. Much of this analytical process is far too over-the-top. We spend so much time having to talk about our objectives for the lesson to the kids, then talking about our success criteria, then talking again at the end about what they’ve actually learned, that the time spent actually doing is so small and by then the kids are switched off anyway!

This is definitely what I see in many children’s faces. In attempts to sharpen teaching practises we’ve actually lost much inspirational educational activity. But sitting in their exclusive surroundings the politicians who devise these strategies never actually see that.

The other sad thing, she said, is that we’ve actually lost the nurturing environment schools used to have. Schools used to be a nurturing place where teachers had time to care for the individual and their learning development. Now that has gone, teaching is a cut-throat business akin to that of a commercial business. Teachers are looking out for their jobs and this affects their teaching not always in positive ways. This competitive climate instead of improving performance tends to make it tense and back biting, creating bitchiness among staff members and pseudo teaching performances that look good at Ofsted but which do sod all for the kids. Schools now have the air of the commercial more than the personal. And they seldom retain that climate of care.

The thing is, wherever the development of the young are concerned there should be a climate of care. I don’t mean wet nursing! I mean that caring is important to demonstrate. Caring is an essential part of development, of intelligence, of being a good citizen. It is where responsibility begins. If a child’s education is cared for, rather than conveyor belted as it is becoming, then children know what caring is. They know it’s important. They know it matters. So they start to care. They care for others. They care for their work. They care for the consequences of their actions. They care for the planet. That’s why a sense of care is SO important for them to experience. It starts at a personal level. It expands from there. Children need to be learning in a caring environment.

If that sense of care disappears from our schools it will begin to diminish in our society. Caring for our kids is vital. Creating caring environments in which they can learn is an essential part of that. If kids do not feel that, they will not show it to others. If teachers have no time to care, are too anxious, or stressed, or afraid they will not be good teachers. It doesn’t take hours of analytical thinking to work that out!

What can parents do about it? They can demand a caring environment for their kids rather than a political one. They can dismiss the Ofsted reports and the league tables. And support those schools where a caring environment resides. Perhaps then the politicians would get the message.

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2 thoughts on “Where is the care in our schools?

  1. What you say about everything having to be Ofsted aproved is so true! We had a week long Ofsted inspection in our school and I might as well not bothered going in! The way they say we should be taught is the most ineffective way possible. The teachers wont do anything out of their criteria in fear of the school being scored badly. So, for an entire week we were subject to pointless lessons (that only had to be retaught again the following week) and silent class rooms because that’s what Ofsted insist are the best sircumstances for learning. But they’re not the ones sitting in the class room all year. Our school is selective, but that doesn’t mean we understand everything first time, and certainly doesn’t mean we don’t need engaging – which they don’t seem to understand. Teachers, in the most part, are intelligent people that have enough common sence to know whether or not a class is being taught in the best way – the vast majority of them are university graduates! In this day and age, a degree isn’t as much to scream and shout about as it used to be, but it still counts for something. So, as childishly as they’re behaving with their strikes at the moment (a commpletely different issue) they need to be treated with some form of trust that they’re capable of doing the job they’re qualified to do. You don’t see accountants being told they have to work out a tax return the old way when there is a far more effective way of doing it, so why are they being told to teach us so ineffectively?

    But then I supposed there’s the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Those teachers that make it perfectly obvious that they don’t care to teach us properly so that we know enough to pass and ace our exams, because they get payed either way. This year, three days before our GCSE exams, we discovered that a certain teacher had only taught us half of the material we needed to know. It had been made known to the Head Teacher over a year previously that he wasn’t up to skratch, but no action was ever taken. Two other members of staff pulled together to try and teach us the other half of the silibus in three days, before discovering that, out of the material we’d been ‘taught’ we only understood around a third of it! We were the Triple Science Award Class, (doing three GCSE’s in the same amount of lesson time that the rest of the year was doing two) so the two of them ended up teaching for an hour before school and two after for these three days, plus break, form, lunch and lesson times on top if that, until they covered everything. But now we’re all facing retakes next year because of one man’s incompetance! The real question here is – how do these people ever become teachers in the first place? They obviously have no interest in educating the furture, it just makes you wonder whether they just go into the job for the essentially free pention.

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