All this talk of “British” “character” and “listening” to teachers – is there an election coming? (updated)

16 Dec

Update:  16 December 2014

England to become a global leader of teaching character: Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announces multi-million pound push to improve character education in England.”

4 December 2014:

Schools must do more to build pupils’ character and resilience, and success is built by overcoming failure, Shadow Education Secretary  Tristram Hunt is expected to tell a conference today (8 December 2014).   He reportedly wants schools to help pupils develop “British spirit” to overcome adversity.

Meanwhile Education Secretary Nicky Morgan gave an interview on “character education” and has “announced a package of measures to help schools instil character in pupils – including extra funding for projects run by former armed service personnel which help turn around the lives of disadvantaged children“.

Such talk is nothing new. In February, Tristram Hunt wrote an article in The Daily Telegraph, about teachers helping children to “develop their character, resilience and attentiveness.”

While politicians’ desire to equip youngsters with the life skills needed in the workplace” is laudable, surely schools already do this anyway.

We also have to question whether values such as “British spirit” are exclusively “British” and the role of the military.

As we have pointed our in previous blog posts, “character” and  “failure”  are not easy to define, while, all too often, politicians use education as a political football – especially when an election is approaching –  instead of taking party politics out of education and adopting a collaborative approach to the development of education policy, removing it from the electoral cycle. 

While the Prime Minister’s announcement on training and recruiting maths and science teachers, and the Education Secretary’s desire to “listen to teachers and lighten their burden” are welcome,  politicians must recognise their role in adding to teachers’ workload.

At a time when schools are looking overseas to fill teaching vacancies” because of a “ghastly” teacher training shortage, it is perhaps teachers, as well as pupils, who need training in “professional, emotional and personal stamina” to deal with “fast-changing landscape of the educational environment” and “politically-motivated spin”.

Do let us know your thoughts…

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