I arrived home fairly late this evening, and am writing this still having not even got round to removing my tie. Let this be an indication of my fury.
I don’t imagine that many education ministers know who I am, and any who do are probably not too fussed about upsetting me. I try my best to work productively with the department as a member of its Teacher Reference Group*, and try to have an understanding of the challenges of government, rather than just being a moaner.
But enough is enough.
The way the whole curriculum and assessment débacle has been handled over the past few years has been beyond chaotic, and despite all the positive words about workload and timescales, it seems that the department or its ministers continues to have a complete disregard for the profession.
Schools and local authorities are in a state of confusion about assessment after levels, and this is repeatedly exacerbated by the actions of the department. In recognition of this problem, Nick Gibb announced an Assessment Commission to “support primary and secondary schools with the transition to assessment without levels”. It seems that the government had failed to notice that the transition should already have happened – the new curriculum is coming to the end of it first year. But more to the point, having received a report from the commission, it seems that the department has decided to sit on it over the summer.
No explanation is offered. No apology for the further chaos (although I fully expect a “I make no apology…” speech from Mr Gibb in due course). No further information is provided about what can be expected. It appears that someone in the department has decided that despite all the problems already caused, despite the clear implications for workload, despite the protocol demanding lead-in times of at least a year, that politics is more important than education.
I sat in a Teacher Reference Group meeting barely two week ago where many of these issues were raised. Repeatedly we were told by representatives from the department that ministers were “acutely aware” of the challenges schools were facing. Well, it appears that they are aware, but indifferent.
How dare they?
How dare a department which has foist immeasurable change on its schools; a department which has repeatedly caused delay and confusion; a department which has continually claimed to be supportive of the profession – make a decision such as this, about such long-awaited guidance, and fail even to properly inform the profession of its actions.
If this post appears irate, forgive me. I feel cheated personally. I have repeatedly told people over recent months to be reassured about their direction of travel. Over and again I have advised good leaders to take comfort from the forthcoming report, reassured that a good band of professionals would offer much-needed clarity and confidence at this time of massive upheaval. To all of them I apologise. It turns out that the repeated denigrations of the department which I have attempted to quell were well-founded. It really does appear that ministers care not a jot for the workload implications, the professional implications, or even the educational implications for hundreds of thousands of school pupils. The whole process feels like sticking two fingers up at the profession, and it stinks.
How dare they?
*Of course, I may cease to be a member of the TRG pretty quickly after this post.