… my soapbox

LBO Dec 2016

Collecting it from the store-room, I reverentially dust it down, carefully position it in the middle of the room and am about to climb onto … my soapbox.

Remaining calm and composed in the face of the day to day stresses and strains of the workplace is important but just occasionally so too is getting something off your chest.

The schools inspectorate, OFSTED, has published a report criticising schools for not giving enough priority to work-related learning and careers education and for not working more closely with business. Of 40 schools visited apparently only 4 were up to scratch.

The director general of the Institute of Directors has weighed in and is quoted as saying that stronger relationships between schools and employers are vital and calling for “a cultural shift within the education sector.”

My experience of schools is that most understand full well the importance of preparing students for employment and are working very hard indeed to provide the best learning and experience for students in this respect.

There are just two snags however.

Firstly, the government has chosen to re-write every single GCSE course and every single A Level course and to do so at the same time. So teachers are understandably somewhat pre-occupied preparing to teach these new courses.  School budgets, already hard pressed, are buckling under the strain of trying to resource the new courses.  Time or money to spend on other priorities are limited.

Secondly, and this might get the LBO’s letters page bulging, but it must be said. While schools are ever so keen to build links with business, it is often business that does not reciprocate.  And after all, why should they?  Many businesses are struggling to survive in a tough economic climate.  While we might all agree on the desirability of schools and businesses working together, it takes time and effort and may simply not be a realistic priority for many small and medium companies.

So, OFSTED and the IoD, wake up to the reality of the here and now. Simply heaping further demands on hard-pressed schools without the addition of any resource will not improve the experience for students but will only exacerbate the looming sense that all the ills of this world appear to be laid at the door of our schools and that schools can continue to do more, much more, with less, much less.

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