The latest Secret Teacher, writing in the Guardian, says he/she became a teacher to help students who struggle to cope, but constant box-ticking means means they are making little difference.
A lot of the people I know became teachers because they loved school – I became a teacher for the opposite reason. I have dyspraxia, a developmental coordination disorder, as well as a genetic disorder that affects my joints. At school, I was considered to have special needs. I didn’t realise that I was different until I started primary school and things that the other children seemed to find easy – such as getting dressed after sports – were mystifyingly hard for me…
Working with teenagers who had learning difficulties showed me that teaching can make a difference. That’s when I chose to study a PGCE with a focus on inclusion.
But four years into my teaching career, I worry about how little impact I’m having. I feel most like a failure when I’m working with special educational needs (SEN) students. The things I do to help them are only softening the blow. Attitudes have changed a great deal since I was at school – a teacher once accused me of being lazy and having nothing wrong with me – but policy has failed to keep up.
Schools are supposed to be inclusive, but pressure from government to focus on testing makes it difficult for this to happen. The focus is on meeting rigid targets, regardless of individual needs…..
It’s not just students with special needs who suffer as a result of this system. Late developers and those who are talented in areas outside of English and maths also lose out. No matter how hard teachers try to hide the emphasis on targets, the message inevitably filters down to the children…
There’s a lot more in the full article but hopefully you get the gist here. What do you think – is it a valid criticism that a target-driven culture in schools is harming vulnerable children, perhaps more so than any others?
In practice, what, if anything, could be done within the current system to improve things for the better?
Please share your feedback, insights and experiences in the comments or via Twitter…
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