Monday, May 21, 2007

Knowsley - Building Schools for Finance

There's a series of posts on the TES Staffroom about Knowsley. There's a particularly interesting piece by 'astaire' which gives some background to the Knowsley "Experiment".

Actually I've known about this "experiment" in Knowsley for some time.

And whilst I don't like to boast (well only a little) the design looks remarkably similar to what I predicted would come to pass, when I started a debate around four or five years ago, on this forum.

It is a bold experiment, but falls in line with the thoughts of one Chris Yapp (ICL education and all that) as revealed by Sir Cyril Taylor (of CTC fame) in a seminar given to members of the ATL Executive around 1996.

I understand these ideas had the support of the then Tory government, in fact I know they did!

And they have been mooted by Estelle Morris, several years ago.

I believe the eventual aim should the whole country go down this route, is for there to be no more than 80,000 (highly paid) "Master" teachers (eg, the fast track/AST whizz kids) operating within all of these centres, each supported by around six "assistant teachers" (that's the rest of us plebs), on the equivelent of teachers pay. Or not as the case may be. A total of around 300,000 Assistant teachers in all.

Drop in centres, holograms of teachers teaching "virtually" from a studio many miles away, and each and every pupil plugged in to a "teaching machine" (now known as a computer) with ATs running around, answering queries, whilst the REAL teacher, is examining the results of the latest group of diagnostic tests, for each pupil, in order to make the decisions which program they will access next!

This was proposed 10 years ago, by Yapp. It was also mooted as the "future" by the Principal of Beauchamp College (East Midlands I think), in the TES, around 5 years ago. Classes of 100, in new style classrooms open 24 hours a day. Are we there yet?

Looks like it in Knowsley, does it not?

And before anybody says, "What are the unions doing about it"? The answer is that many of them, especially the NUT, simply did not believe that it would come to pass, so ignored it, or were "against it", and believe it or not the word "strike" was uttered! But I was pretty convinced then, and looks like I was a little bit right to be so convinced?

The trouble with teachers, all teachers is that they think everything is going to carry on the same way it always has, and that social unrest, disruption of classes, a longer tail of underachievment, and a growing underclass, with no academic values whatsoever, can be ignored.

On these forums too many teachers think the answer is to "Chuck out the malcontents. Chuck out OfStEd. Chuck out the national curriculum. Pay teachers more (because you're worth it), and get rid of all the paperwork". And it's not the way government is thinking. Not the way the Tories are thinking either.

I have always thought that sooner of later somebody would find a socially deprived area, with very very low achievement and high social deprivation factors, and actually experiment. I think this is it!

For the government of the day and in fact the government of the future know quite well, from think tanks and sociological prediction and studies, that the society is in a parlous state. Another Toxteth or Brixton could be just around the corner.

T Blair has always stated that Education was the answer. And he was damned right!

As Charles Dickens said (about the two children under the cloak of the Ghost of Chrismas present). "This boy is Ignorance. this girl is Want. Beware them both....but most of all beware this boy".

If you could only see the presentation I saw last year from the National remodelling team (on the community school of the future) with 24 hour drop in education, health/social/medical services on the same site. Upwards of 2000 students catered for in a 24 hour day, and staffed 7 days per week, 24 hours per day.

You gotta think big nowadays. And the trouble with teachers is...well they don' they?It would appear that many are more interested in squabbling with each other on here, or exploring the amazing phenomena of so called "entertainment" like "big brother" etc.

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This is really interesting. The way we are being asked to change our perceptions of what is normal, is always curious.

Changing how we think of teachers will be futile - they will always be teachers, just like refuse collectors will always be binmen.

Im new to this blogging malarchy so if you get a sec, have a look at my own slightly-removed ramblings from the side of the education field!
that would be at
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