Time For A Change

After 41 blogs where I have ranted about the government drive to show ordinary kids that they are as good as worthless; 80,000 words suggesting, demanding and crying out for headteachers and political opposition parties to stand up for comprehensive education, I stopped writing.

I have nothing left to add.

A friend of our comprehensive secondary school said I should say it all again.

We have a staffing shortage across the system – Oh no we don’t (DfE)

We have seen our budgets cut and many of us are heading towards redundancies, larger classes, fewer subject choices and deficit budgets (MPs and DfE: There’s lots of money)

Close your eyes and ears and pretend we will not see a mass exodus of school leaders in 2017.

Under AOB at my union’s information conference in 2015 I said that the new curriculum, including tougher exams, end of coursework and bigger subject content will fail the majority of the young people in my school. I was met with polite silence from the leadership.

When I said that junior school kids are being driven away from creativity, teamwork, problem solving and personal resilience by the obsession with SATs and that this is a bad thing, some people waited for me to shut up.

I have been an ASCL member for 19 years. Our previous General Secretary, Brian Lightman, was kind enough to engage in debate with me – in person and by email. I respected Brian as he kept telling me that the politicians were listening to the ASCL, even though we have watched their attacks on state education. They did not listen, Brian, but a million thanks for your work.

My local ASCL rep has written to us explaining why we should consider voting for a sitting ASCL Council member. I propose doing nothing of the sort.

If there is to be a change in policy to secure a brilliant education for our children, one where they are individuals with their own talents to be developed, a system where state schools are recognised for the amazing successes already achieved and the opportunity to achieve even more, where teachers are esteemed and admired for the fantastic commitment to learning, achievement and fairness, if we are to be optimistic about our children’s future, it is time for a change. It is time for courageous union leadership. The ASCL Council nomination for General Secretary has never been a headteacher, has been a civil servant and is a consultant. He has experience of for-profit education provision, is now with an academy chain and probably ideally placed to understand the government’s priorities.

I have just discovered that Geoff Barton is standing for the position of ASCL General Secretary. I have watched his work for many years, I have borrowed from his school’s website, I have read his stuff on literacy and I have listened to him speak at PIXL conferences. I am sure he is not as oppositional or militant as me and he may not thank me for my support. However, I think we should all look at what he stands for (Google is a start) and hope he is the sort of leader that will commit to the membership and times changing for the better.

Dennis O’Sullivan (Headteacher)

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