“Ofsted is launching a league table ranking local authorities according to inspectors’ ratings of schools.” So says the BBC news yesterday (here). My heart sinks. Actually, it does worse than sink, it vomits!
Because most of what’s bad about the educational system starts and ends with league tables.
In a misguided attempt to make schools better they have made them worse, because they have made schools’ terrified and obsessive climb up league tables more important than educating children at a human level. League tables have overtaken humanity. And education is about humanity, or should be, although you would think it was just about statistics. It isn’t. It is about developing the next generation of the human race. And league tables will not help that happen.
Why? Because they change the focus of what goes on in schools. League tables put more pressure on schools – as if they weren’t pressured enough. Schools put pressure on teachers, who will pass that down through their teaching to the kids. And who do the kids have to pass it onto? No one. They’re the suckers in this who end up carrying it all, pawns in a statistical game.
Ofsted is a complete farce anyway – ask anyone involved in teaching. It is purely political and doesn’t improve schools at all. But it is sold to parents as the government’s way of helping make schools better. So-called ‘failing’ schools as per the Ofsted reports have ‘Superheads’ go in with the answers. However the answers are not IN the school, they very often originate OUT of it. ‘Superheads’ cannot change the glaring obvious fact that communities are different, every region is different, the culture and the economy is different from area to area, parenting and support for education from the home is different, and that all means that the kids your kids learn with, the pro-education attitude (or not!) of the community, the intelligence of their peers is very different catchment to catchment, and there’s no controlling background however ‘super’ the head is in bullying kids to pass tests and fighting the way up league tables. For that’s what a ‘good school’ becomes about – fulfilling tables and massaging stupid statistics, masking the true fact that individual children are being prostituted in their pursuit.
What needs to happen instead is that politicians needs to do something about the economic, societal and cultural poverty of these areas OUTSIDE the schools. Rather than making schools another notch on their league table bedpost and panicking parents to move to Camden and Richmond (see the article). We can’t all live there and if we did the result would be that some of those schools would start ‘failing’ too.
“We’ll be asking a question – why is it parents in some parts of the country have less than a 50% chance of getting their children into a good primary school where there are other parts of the country where that chance is over 90%?” says the article.
I’ll tell you why – because some parts of the country are totally neglected while an elite demographic is promoted. Perhaps I’m wrong – perhaps we should all move to Camden and Richmond. Maybe then they’d sit up and take note of the fact that we are not all born equal, that kids are not all parented equally, and that is what makes such a huge difference in schools. And no amount of superheads or league tables will make any difference, except to make it worse for those dedicated people who try their hardest in the classroom to equalise it as much as they can.
I would rather have humane schools with the particular needs of real kids at heart than a school obsessed with political climbing any day. And I feel for those parents and teachers who are trapped by yet more ridiculous politics.
I’m sure it will mean, we will have even more home educators – as is happening every single day!