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Sunday 20 October 2013

Toby Young Says Look Over There

Following the second head teacher departure from Future Academies, the chain set up by Tory schools minister Lord Nash, within a fortnight, the loathsome Toby Young (aka Captain Bellend), forthright defender of Free Schools, has hit upon a new means of defending the mayhem, and that is to get everyone to look somewhere else, not mention the departures, and hope nobody notices.
Sadly this has got off to a bad start, as even before he committed his thoughts to the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, another Free School had parted company with its head teacher. Discovery Free School, near Crawley, had been placed in special measures, which tells you just how badly it was doing. Ofsted declared the recovery programme from the school to be not fit for purpose.

The Ofsted inspector made it plain that “It is essential that a credible professional is appointed to the headship without delay to provide the expert leadership necessary to remove the school from special measures”. That sounds rather like he’s after a qualified teacher. The one who stepped down wasn’t (just like the one at Pimlico Primary who lasted all of three weeks).

So where does Tobes want us all to look? “Labour and the Lib Dems' weekly U-turns on free schools are disrupting children's education”. Really? And how does this dastardly conspiracy to disrupt Himself Personally Now manifest itself? “It makes it difficult for the people involved in running free schools – people like me – to make well-informed strategic decisions”. And, as the man said, there’s more.

Take teachers without QTS, for instance. Would Labour or the Lib Dems force free schools to sack teachers that don't have QTS?”. That’s an operational matter, Tobes, and has bugger all to do with strategy. If Tobes can’t hack the definition of the word “strategy”, he’s in the wrong business. There is a word that sums up this attitude succinctly, and that word is bullshit.

And his whole premise is meaningless: the Coalition has a year and a half to run, and no decision would work retrospectively. “At the West London Free School in Hammersmith, we currently employ a teacher who doesn't have QTS, yet the headmaster and the governors believe she's qualified for the job because she has one undergraduate degree and two post-graduate degrees” he protests.

This person may be able to teach. But having an array of degrees does not mean the holder is able to get the subject across, not even to the most determined young minds. And Tobes, as ever, misrepresents what Labour and Lib Dem spokesmen say merely to get his adoring readers (Damian and James Delingbonkers) to look anywhere except troubled Free Schools.

That tactic will not succeed, especially in Tobes’ hands. No change there, then.

1 comment:

organic cheeseboard said...

"we currently employ a teacher who doesn't have QTS, yet the headmaster and the governors believe she's qualified for the job because she has one undergraduate degree and two post-graduate degrees” -

This backs up my idea in the comments to another Bellend-focused piece that very few staff members at the TwatMadrassa don't have a teaching qualification - in fact it looks like the number is one. For someone so wedded to the policy of qualifications not being mandatory, 'his' school sure does choose a lot of teachers who are in fact qualified.

By the looks of it, this is the art teacher Lily Akseth and the special pleading on the website about her teaching philosophy demonstrates that this is a very recent appointment, and one which was not entirely without opposition. It would be interesting to see how long she lasts - I wish her very well, but if she were to leave quite soon, presumably Toby would just run the same old column in which he makes the point over and over again that this is a decision for the governors. also worth noting is that her business is till active - if I were a parent I'd be a bit worried that she wasn't taking this teaching lark seriously, but I might be wrong there.

Personally I can't envisage many situations where a school would look over candidates and go for the one with zero experience, but hey ho. Independent schools can appoint without qualifications, but the majority of new appointments do have qualifications.

Oh and on this thing about 'what would happen to all the Free School teachers who haven't got a qualification' thing - they'd presumably be asked to undertake one or demonstrate their experience. Not rocket science - it's going on all over the HE sector as we speak.