Image courtesy of Tony Gentilcore
It's begun. Just a number of hours after the election and the open letters to David Cameron and Nicky Morgan have begun.
It's not that I don't agree with the sentiment or the content. I'm just not sure about whether it is the right way to communicate genuine concerns. Do people ensure that, to the best of their ability, that the person intended has the opportunity to read them? Are copies sent to the DfE, 10 Downing Street?
I see 3 genuine concerns that the new Conservative government need to address in education:
1) Teacher Recruitment - We want the best, the brightest, the most well-trained and well equipped for the classroom (and for leadership roles). We want long term commitment from all and people not leaving en-mass.
2) Funding - Despite there being 'no money', it is vital to ask, "How can schools continue to get better with less money?". If we are determined to ensure the best education system in the world, there needs to be greater funding. Transparency on this is also required, say what you mean in real terms, and offer support to schools facing the biggest cuts.
3) OFSTED / Accountability Measures - It is now clear that OFSTED is not currently fit for purpose, but perhaps most importantly these have the biggest impact on workload in schools. Nearly every new initiative comes from something OFSTED may or may not want.
I believe 1) and 2) are directly linked to the school places crisis which needs to be tackled. I've heard figures of 25,000 new teachers needed during the next 5 years. Secondly, how can schools provide more places with no funding? Perhaps the free schools programme will fix some wholes, but LEAs/Councils need to be able to indicate where these are needed.
I believe 3) is connected to the research, new advice, pedagogy being provided to staff. I think it is connected to the possibility of the Royal College of Teaching, the EEF Toolkit, Research Ed etc.
Instead of writing Open Letters filled with anecdotal evidence that pulls on the heart strings, and potentially makes teachers sounds like the biggest victims in all this (ask nurses, soldiers, policemen...), get active. Write to your new MP and focus on the issues rather than just your feelings and emotions.
I'm just as worried as you, but we need to be proactive and positive about what we want to do, and what we want focussed on.
To contact your MP, use: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/
When it reopens, use: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/