14 Oct '14

News Teaching oaths, hit squads and the reality of life at the chalkface | @guardianletters

The idea of a hit squad dispatched into so-called failing schools (Report, 13 October) should sound an alarm on a few counts. It signals the continuation of the use of force that engenders fear in urban schools, labelled not as challenging schools or, more pertinently, disadvantaged schools in local areas that usually rank high on the Index of Multiple Deprivation. It wages a propaganda war against teaching staff and multi-agency workers who are working extremely hard to try to combat exceptional social and educational inequalities in school communities that have suffered much from austerity policies. The charge of failure, code-named inadequate by Ofsted, is a political ploy to mask the effects in teachers classrooms of poverty and deprivation, which should be seen as mitigating circumstances when it comes to exam results, national benchmarks and floor targets.This is a dangerous social experiment with these disadvantaged schools, overseen by the prime minister and led by authoritarian politicians like Michael Gove and now Nicky Morgan, who is seemingly content to carry on with a deliberate misrepresentation of the social realities of these frontline workers and subject them to intense policy pressures and sanctions, including job losses. More worrying, in the absence of adequate research-informed system support to meet pupils academic and social learning needs, is the power allocated to these politicians to shut down these schools, which are then cut adrift from the local authority and reopened as academies with corporate sponsors intent on profit-making and wealth creation. This then paves the way for global edu-businesses to come in and take over the nations state school system, which in turn raises serious questions about knowledge control and the control of teachers work, not to forget the fate of pupils from poor and deprived family and social backgrounds. The fallout from these vernacular forms of global neoliberal policies will echo down the 21st century, and as history has shown, there are dangerous precedents.Professor Lori BeckettThe Winifred Mercier professor of teacher education, Leeds Beckett University Continue reading...

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