Monday, 19 January 2009

Teachers and the inner city

So Mr Brown has proposed a £10,000 pay increase for those of us who teach in the most challenging schools; the BBC education pages tells that "About 6,000 new teachers in 500 of the most challenging secondary schools will be offered the "golden handcuffs" to keep them in post." Having taught in inner-city primaries all my working life I know how tough it can be...I have even had colleagues in "easier" schools comment on how we "inner city teachers" deserve more money...well it wasn't all bad; in fact mostly enjoyable but it is hard work and many teachers deserve recognition for their dedication. Personally, even though 10 grand would obviously be useful in the current economic climate, I have to say that the money wouldn't be enough to keep a teacher in a challenging school. It has been recognised that effective teachers are moving on from lower achieving schools and they move on because they need more support; not more money. Mr Brown has made the link between disadvantage, achievement and social mobility so why not make it easier for teachers do what they are trained for, that is teach. I'm not a fan of private schools (far too elitist but that's a different story and one woman's personal opinion) but what they have got right is the size of the classes; the amount of support staff; the control they have over the curriculum and what works for their pupils. Surely the money would be more useful employing extra excellent teachers, reducing class sizes and getting more teaching assistants who are trained to be specialist in different areas of learning and behaviour management; maybe it could be spent on good quality parenting classes and improved, specialist home/ school liaison officers. Look to the primary schools; it's difficult to teach 30 year 6 pupils when you know that a quarter of them haven't got basic speaking and listening skills and are disengaged from the curriculum, parts of which (not all) are irrelevant. Interventions need to be started way before secondary education starts to beckon and schools need to be given the freedom to work collectively and creatively to devise a curriculum that suits the needs of the pupils rather than the needs of official statistics.

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