This email was received by DeputyJohn from a teacher frustrated by the dominance of progressive ideology amongst the commentariat and worried about expressing these views publicly as some individuals attack people personally.
Apart from the addition in the middle of the piece in italics, DeputyJohn simply amended it stylistically to maintain anonymity.
I publish it because I agree with the thrust, even though I would not have been able to write this well myself:
Pawns? Nah, pawns are important
Since it happened, I have wondered what the point was of the primary dominated visit to the DfE on the 8th April. The first and most glaring issue was the fact that only two full-time teachers were present. The second was that as a whole those attending have a certain educational ideology they subscribe to. To spell it out, they’re progressives. I would have been far more comfortable had Michael Tidd or Mr Chadwick been able to attend. Not only would that have bumped up the teacher count, but it would also have concentrated the discussion on the curriculum, which I understand was ostensibly the point of the meeting in the first place.
As a record for what was discussed I am using Tim Taylor’s notes, which he helpfully published.
As if a sign of things to come, Liz Truss appeared to not be present at the start and left halfway through, only to return. If anything, that was an indication of how important this meeting was. As an avid viewer of “the Thick of It” I imagine there is a sole person in the DfE bureaucracy that reads educational blogs. I expect that person got all excited after the other lot got invited to OFSTED and decided to ‘do a primary one’. I can imagine the morning briefing going something like this:
Truss (ET hereafter): Ok what’s on the agenda today?
Civil Servant (CS hereafter): You have a meeting with that weird bloke from OFSTED this morning, and this afternoon I have invited some teachers to speak to you about primary school stuff.
ET: Primary? Are all my jabs up to date?
CS: It’s the holidays Liz, don’t worry.
ET: So who are these people who are coming then?
CS: Bloggers from twitter mainly
ET: Twitter? Blogging? For fucks sake, these people could be anything! Probably a bunch of glitter and glue merchants who spend their precious hours typing into a keyboard while downing Chardonnay.
CS: Don’t be silly Liz, they are the sharpest minds we can find from the primary sector.
ET: (scans list of names) Thought Weavers? Imagine Inquiry? Education Bear? (rolls eyes) Are these people smoking something?
CS: Look – just be nice, you can pop out whenever you like and if you turn up late then you will only have to be there for about half of it.
ET: Noted. Try not to keep them talking for long. They are probably a bunch of trots anyway and want to whinge about pensions and all that other bollocks. They will never vote for us anyway. Teachers hate the Tories.
And they do. They certainly showed it during the meeting. They managed to elevate tests above APP (FFS!) in a list of problems. Why? Because the agenda of the government elevates testing, and they knew Truss thinks APP is and was stupid. They managed to defend national curriculum levels (FFS!! x2). They expressed that schools are still keeping them, at which point ‘Caroline’ rightly asked for clarification that people weren’t still using the old national curriculum, for which levels were devised. They criticised a more sensible grass roots assessment model that every school can implement for the benefit of their pupils. One managed to moan that they couldn’t cope without LA support – (read: being told what to do). It is a shameful read.
This is not the fault of these people. (DeputyJohn: One of them has been central to promoting the deputyjohn blog at its inception, and I like some of these people.) They had their agenda and they stuck to it. But it was irrelevant.
So what was their agenda? As far as I can see it started and ended at tests. That was the crux of the matter. They went on and on about them.
Tests stifle creativity. What? Who wants an illiterate creative fool at the end of year 6? And in any case, didn’t Ken Robinson show us that 2 years olds are super creative, so we don’t need to develop creativity anyway.
Tests are ruining education in primary because all kids learn is maths and English. Have these people ever thought of teaching literacy through their topic? And grammar/spelling/reading also?
Tests are destroying our profession. What? Like GCSEs have destroyed secondary education? – Get a grip.
The solution? Get rid of all tests. Truss must have spat her tea out at this point in exasperation.
What a waste of an opportunity! They came, they saw, they did exactly as expected and they left. They had zero impact, to go with the apparent zero credibility they had in being there in the first place.
So were they pawns in a wider game? I don’t think so. Pawns are important pieces in chess. They defend the King/other pieces and determine the area of the board the battle takes place in. They dictate the direction of the game. This changed nothing and influenced no one.
This was confirmed to me when Truss spoke the following day. You only have to read this to realise that.
Well thank God for that (good speech by the way).
Cant wait for the EYFS visit…….