Thursday, 6 March 2014

In response to Vince Cable...

'Teachers are ignorant of real world, warns Cable' (The Times) 

 'Vince Cable: 'Teachers know absolutely nothing about the world of work'  (The Indie)

I'm off work at the moment, hamstrung by a tummy bug and the fact that my classroom is two floors away from the nearest bathroom (that could be extremely embarrassing. Not to mention the danger of wiping out the entire English department - my husband has already gone down with something similar.) which has left me with ample time to click refresh on the news pages. For the sake of my own blood pressure I've been trying to avoid education stories in the meedja, however the above two articles did their click-baity job.

Gosh, well, this is a little embarrassing isn't it?

Notwithstanding the gaping ignorance shown by stating that 'most' teachers are graduates (I don't think the anti-QTS agenda has penetrated quite that far yet - as far as I know a degree is a basic requirement), Cable manages to further make ridicule of himself through stating that teachers 'know nothing' about the world of work within a week of the Teacher's Workload Survey being published, in which it was announced that the average primary school teacher works 60 hours a week; for secondary teachers it’s over 50. Quite the workload, for those who 'know nothing' of work. 

It is a shame that Cable has so crassly misrepresented a very valid view – Careers advice in schools is often woeful. This is due to lack of funding and adequate support from LEAs, and the scrapping of Connexions. (This is an old article, but seems pertinent). Furthermore, the erosion of ‘Work Experience’ placements (traditionally a few weeks in the final years of school) has left students of 16 less able to make informed choices about what they want to do, should further academic study not be something they wish to pursue. It's interesting that Careers advice in schools is meant to be subject to a review 'by 3/14'.  

Perhaps, also, we should say very slowly and clearly to Cable - Teachers. Are. Not. Careers. Advisers....

For what it’s worth, I happen to agree that, in many cases (and my own experience) some of the best teachers are the ones who did not go straight into teaching immediately on graduation. However, it is insulting, unfair and untrue to say that teachers have no ‘experience’ of the world of work; as though it is nothing at all to achieve A levels, a degree, a teaching qualification and a year’s induction before becoming a main scale teacher. It also rather undermines the  argument prevalent amongst the goverment during Tristram Hunt’s debate on QTS that great teachers are ‘born to teach’.

Is Vince Cable suggesting that these people in particular should abandon this dream in order to do something they don’t really want to do for a few years instead? Or was it, instead, simply a misguided and transparent attempt to garner support from the manufacturing industry executives he was speaking to?