Published on 03/11/15
Tricia Kelleher, Principal at the Stephen Perse Foundation, looks at Nicky Morgan and the legacy she will leave.
Just imagine the scene. Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, and her denizens, gathered together to discuss how to improve the education of our children. “So,” she ponders “what will make a real difference to learning in the classroom?”
“Ensuring we recruit and retain the best quality teachers in all our schools?” says someone helpfully.
“Ah … Interesting point. Recruitment and retention of teachers is critical. To ensure they are doing the job we need we must hold these teachers fully accountable” Mrs Morgan ripostes. “We can’t have coasting teachers in coastal towns…” A smile quivers on her lips as her denizens chuckle just as if they had never heard this quip before. “We also need to be wary of young teachers who are being trained by education faculties – Michael warned me about the dangers of the blob…”
“Would it help improve things ” mutters one side kick warily “if we valued teachers in schools more?”
“I do value those teachers who ensure their schools are deemed excellent by Ofsted. But how can I value teachers who let down our children in schools found wanting? You only have to listen to Sir Michael on this. He is incandescent that so many schools require improvement! What we need are more academies and Free Schools to free schools from the shackles of local authorities so they focus on teaching and learning.”
“But Minister” – he hesitates – “there is little if any evidence that academies and Free Schools improve outcomes…” Courage failing, the side kick decides to end his challenge.
“Would it not be beneficial to have a coherent curriculum and assessment framework which runs from age 3-18, Minister, to ensure progression in learning?”
“Well, Michael has looked at this. Look what happened to him – got a kicking from the History blob!”
responds the Minister testily. “What I need,” she pauses for effect, “is an eye catching educational policy which will make me headline news. A policy which will make my name as a tough Education Secretary – tough on education, tough on the causes of education.”
“What about,” – the side kick hesitates- “what about introducing more testing of children so we can truly hold the teachers and the schools accountable?”
There was silence as the assembled denizens waited for their Minister’s response.
“Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!” Mrs Morgan cries truly overwhelmed by the idea of creating her legacy. “Testing,testing, testing – the younger the better.”
As the room relaxed, Mrs Morgan asked what was next on the day’s agenda.
“The mental well-being of our children – deemed a growing problem in our schools.”
“Ah! And what are schools doing to ensure our children are supported?” declares the Minister without a hint of irony.