Thursday, April 19, 2007
I visited another 'Dream School', they were created in 2004/5 as another way to address 'failure'. In this school only five teaching staff stayed and a team of first year (NQTs) teachers were appointed. There was a new Principal who came from the Board of Education and resigned after a year.
There was a change from 'Reconstitution' in that the existing teachers could reapply for their jobs but they had to write a letter, be observed three times by a panel of five people and go for a competitive interview. As one teaching assistant (they're called 'para-professionals') told me, "We lost good teachers who went to teach in easy schools".
The new teachers in the 'Dream School' had to teach an extra two hours a day, there was another high turnover of staff after the first year. The School Board did give them extra resources like a school nurse, social worker and other support staff. A new Principal listened to teachers and helped some of the new ones. It was an extremely challenging school, I saw a young teacher with the patience of a saint - I'd have been ranting and raving at them.
I got the impression though that it had been a close run thing, why 'experiment', just give the schools more money and lift children out of poverty.