Is Sir Wilshaw of Ofsted the Terry Tate of Teaching?

If a blog is nothing but therapy for wannabe writers who can’t get noticed by a real publisher, then at least it’s chance to sound off to two or three people on something you want to rant about,  in this case it’s that flippin (I know – beware – strong language) Wilshaw and his Ofsted ambitions. He has actually said to The Guardian “If anyone says to you that ‘staff morale is at an all-time low’ you know you are doing something right.” Splutter! Spit! Pshaw! And that’s not just me there is horrified gasping all around me, every time I mention it, and that doesn’t include the comments on the article online – click here to read the article and add your own.

Of course any decent journalist would know that a quote like that is a good one, possibly likely to get the speaker into a spot of bother. Hell! A quick look at my contract and staff handbook suggests that should I feel intimidated by my bosses there is a procedure I can follow through Human Resources, who will suggest to my line manager  that I might need some mentoring or some encouragement. They may even suggest that I should be given some positive reinforcement, because hell they don’t want to lose me (maybe) nor do they want me to sue them for stress or constructive dismissal. Management bullying and the prevention of it has been the by-word of the new millennial workplace, we should all be very polite to one another and we should certainly be positive in the classroom, pupils must receive a ‘praise sandwich’ when they are marked, why not the teacher when they are evaluated?

Obviously Sir Wilshaw believes his old fashioned education values will not only please parents (and hell they’re suckers for discipline so long as it’s done without inconveniencing them) it will delight government who will be able to point to silent classrooms and say ‘Look they’re learning!’ He clearly regards the cowed ranks of children taught by nervous, unhappy teachers as a mark productivity. After all what company has succeeded to the Fortune 100  by being nice to employees? Oh right Google, Microsoft and something called Teach for America – sounds good to me – somehow they seem to treat their employees well and exploit them at the same time, not only that they get colossal productivity and job satisfaction all by being nice to their employees. Radical man!

I would like to think that this statement would be picked by the Press and declaimed as a scandalous thing to say, but sadly I think that public sector workers are held in such low regard that most of the country is thinking ‘Yeah bloody sock it to ’em.’ Government and private sector behave as if they are forced to carry a lazy burden strapped to their back which, when it speaks, is asking ‘Are we there yet?’ The private sector believes that its investment and entrepreneurial enterprises could happen entirely independent of infrastructure – I’d like to see them try! How long would the bankers stay if their banks kept getting robbed because there we no public sector workers called police to protect them? How readily would they buy houses in a place where no one builds after an earthquake? How many commutes could they make with no buses, no roads, no trains and no ambulance to scrape them off the pavement after an accident? And those vaccines we demand for all those pesky diseases, administered by public sector workers and that stable society which provides the opportunity for all that talented investment that the private sector swears is the only source of wealth and tax – that’s down to education: kids enlightened; adults given futures; a moral compass applied to all; skills, stability, progress, try getting any of that without a public sector. A public sector lays the foundation for a safe environment, with infrastructure and support in an environment that supports investment and carries that burden – as well as paying tax and apparently now, obliged to be miserable about it.

Nope no one will defend us, Gove thinks we are either lazy or incompetent, the public think they should have our pensions and Sir Wilshaw has been given permission to be the Terry Tate school of teaching loose on education and if you don’t know who that is, play the video below and enjoy, although I think it is meant (whispers) to be a joke – and after that if you want to read what it’s like to be a teacher with low morale read my last post, a story, Year Nine.

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