I’M SURE I heard a whisper this morning, the faint sound of a collective nod of agreement.

It happened when I started reading this opinion piece by Gillian Harvey, writing for The Telegraph.

By the time I got to the fourth paragraph I envisaged teachers and lecturers around the UK putting down their red marking pens and giving Ms Harvey a round of applause when she stated that “education needs to be wrestled from the fingers of ill-informed and point-scoring politicians”.

She went on to say: “It seems that, no matter what, the diligent teacher cannot win: if results are good, the tests have become too easy; if they are average, questions are raised as to why they are not ‘good’.

“No notice is paid to the fact that pupils are individuals with distinct needs and personal issues: sometimes a pupil may make no progress on paper, and yet because of his particular circumstances, the fact that he is able to tread water is miraculous.”

Reading Ms Harvey’s prose was like being transported from my desk into a familiar situation.

Those who preach from the mount, making up rules and regulations without ever having spent time teaching, are one of the constant irritations of the many teachers, headteachers and college principals I know – and over the years I’ve crossed paths with many of them, either socially or professionally.

After marrying into a family of teachers in my 20s it was inevitable that over a cheeky Shiraz or two the conversation would almost always turn to the challenges of life in the classroom and the interference from those in Westminster who wouldn’t know their ILOs from their ILRs – that’s Individual Learning Objectives and Individual Learning Records to you and me!

I have many friends and acquaintances still working in the education sector and I work with the largest provider of post-16 education in the Tees Valley, which, no doubt, explains why, by the time I reached the end of Ms Harvey’s piece I could hear their voices singing a rousing rendition of ‘hallelujah’.


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