Writing in the Guardian, Michael Rosen tells Nicky Morgan that rather than parachuting in teachers to improve an individual school, she should let local schools work together for all pupils
The moment that you ministers say you’ve got plans to “improve schools”, we parents prick up our ears. It’s as if you are offering us a magic present: we can imagine it’s anything we want. If we think the kind of schooling we had was rubbish, we can make that part of the present. If we think schooling now is awful, we can make that part of it, too.
If you imply schools are not good enough, by saying you’re going to make them better can be any old personal kind of “better” that I might conjure up: children should be more polite, sit in rows of desks facing the front, spell properly, know their times tables, compete to get into grammar schools, have more exams, wear uniforms, know more facts, wash behind their ears and be able to recite The Charge of the Light Brigade.
Whether you are, or are not, saying this is beside the point. That phrase “improve schools” is the perfect election-friendly catch-all.
In actual fact, it’s beset with a logical problem: our children attend “a” school. We want that school to be as good as it can possibly be. The question is, does improving that single school “improve schools”?
And does creating a new school, with a great stack of new resources, trumpeting itself as better than the rest, “improve schools” in that area? I mention “area” because this is how most of our state-school educated children live. They live in an area.
I have yet to see evidence that proves that one good school in an area, or one new school, “improves” those around it merely by being good.
As a parent, all I’ve ever noticed is that that school becomes a parent-magnet: parents compete to get their child into that one school and some kind of de facto selection takes place, which inevitably means reverse selection for the other schools in that area…
Michael Rosen goes on to contrast Nicky Morgan’s initiative for an ‘elite’ group of teachers to be parachuted into (and then back out of) failing schools in SAS style with what he sees as the more collaborative approach the London Challenge.
However, what do you make of the suggestion above that improving one school does little or nothing to improve schools more generally in an area? Is it a valid argument?
Please let us know why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…
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