My sister is working as a teacher in a tough outer London comprehensive school. She has just started a blog diary… http://passthepenciltest.blogspot.com/. (Link also in the side bar).
I recommend it, it’s hilarious. I hope she keeps it up.
Her school is the definition of a sink school. One of the alumnae from this school was kicked out of the recent Big Brother (9) show for intimidating other housemates with gangster threats (link). Intake has shrunk over the last 5 years from 9 ‘Year 7’ (first year of Secondary education) forms to only 4. No one wants to send their children there.
Located in Croydon on the outskirts of London, this borough has the highest number of ‘unaccompanied’ children in the U.K. These are children direct from war zones throughout the world. Every couple of weeks, arrives in class yet another traumatised non-English speaking child. This obviously causes tremendous problems for continuity of teaching. Some of them are clearly not able to be in mainstream education.
The school is going into ‘special measures’ as it’s a failing school that will be closed and merged. Finally it will be taken over by a private company as part of New Labour’s Public Private Partnership initiative. This company allows creationism to be taught in schools.
As my teenager is undergoing la rentrée, we have been discussing the differences between the French and British educational systems. French schools are old fashioned, academic and based on the rigid system of the baccalauréat. Pupils spend long hours sitting down listening to “chalk and talk”.
British pupils are encouraged to learn sensually, kinesthetically, to get up and move in order to improve retention of information. Otherwise pupils can sit there and “glaze” through the lessons. My teenager has spent the last two years “glazing” through every lesson. Copying stuff out in beautiful French script but retaining very little.
We are so concerned about education in this country that British teachers are taught the most advanced teaching methods in the world. Each British school has somebody assigned just to keep up teacher training. So what’s going wrong?