Low Expectations, Poor Performance

A few years ago I had a top set Year 10 Chemistry class, all targeted to get As and A*s. I can’t remember why, but I decided that they should do an O level paper (I think it was some sort of competition run by the Royal Society of Chemistry). I started teaching them what they needed to know. There was a huge amount of new content and the concepts were much more advanced than those in the GCSE specification. They struggled. I struggled. After two weeks, we had only done enough for one O level question, which they failed abysmally. It was a dispiriting episode for the pupils and for me. Continue reading “Low Expectations, Poor Performance”

Instilling Respect

Given the nature of school life, we often get bogged down in behaviour issues. Most days we deal with unpleasant incidents which take up our time and distract other students. While we have to deal with each incident as it occurs, we should also try and work out the root cause of bad behaviour and address it directly, rather than just continue to deal with the symptoms. Continue reading “Instilling Respect”

Hanging Teachers Out to Dry

It is easy to get into difficult situations as a teacher – you lose your self-control for a fraction of a section, you accidentally make an inappropriate comment or you inadvertently make physical contact with a child. Often a minor incident becomes exaggerated when a child reports it to a parent with a grudge who then follows it up vindictively. Worst of all, other staff can sometimes deliberately make a mountain out of molehill to get at a colleague.

Continue reading “Hanging Teachers Out to Dry”

Our Lords and Masters

Whatever its rights or wrongs, at its very least the British democratic system ensures that we are ruled by people we elect. If we don’t like them we can vote them out and they lose their jobs.

This is not wholly true. At the moment there are 18 Government ministers who are unelected, all but one of whom are Lords. Several are donors to the Tory party and many have been made Lords in order to do the jobs they have been given.  In some cases there are conflicts of interest between the jobs these people do and their Government roles. It seems unlikely that they have gone through a formal selection process. Continue reading “Our Lords and Masters”

Spare the rod…

One of the most difficult aspects in the modern education system is balancing the needs of individual students with the needs of the whole school.  Every student, whatever their needs, is entitled to an education.  In many cases, children’s problems are due to poor parenting and it seems unfair to give a child less opportunity through no fault of their own. Continue reading “Spare the rod…”

Teaching: short hours, long holidays?

It’s easy being a teacher – finish at 3pm every day, 13 weeks holiday – what’s all the fuss?

Here is the reality: 22 hours a week teaching, maybe 11 hours to plan half-decent lessons, 5 hours to prepare and tidy up during the working day, 5 hours to make phone calls to parents, enter data and do other administrative tasks, 5 hours marking and maybe 2 hours per week on average for meetings, parents’ evenings and so on. Continue reading “Teaching: short hours, long holidays?”