Schools Today

21apr03a: Teacher A: Filling forms instead of teaching.

I have been teaching for 20 years and I know what I'm doing. I approach my job in a professional and conscientious way. I set high standards and know how to get good results.

What I have is a combination of theory, common sense and experience in school and in life in general. I am well read and resourced in my subject area. My theoretical grounding is solid and includes educational theories and subject based knowledge.

I am now faced with a situation in which I am accountable to too many people: the headmaster, my line manager, my performance manager, and then OFSTEAD inspectors come. There too much resources going into accountability. There is too much recording of information and paperwork. Who is this all for? I don't think this is realistically raising standards because I loose too much time from teaching.

I do recognise that teachers should be accountable for what we are doing but it does not help the pupils if we fill forms instead of teaching.

Teachers should also have time to reflect and reassess future development.

23apr03a: Technology teacher: We need exams with less writing.

I teach technology for 11 to 18 year olds.

We do internal yearly exams and the pupils are entered for GCSEs and AS an A-level exams as well as GNVQs. I teach a GNVQ unit in health and social care. It is classroom based and I send them out to do research and make contact with people out in the work place. I give them a brief and they must write a report. In this unit the pupils do not actually do a job (as they do with some other GNVQ units) but must make contacts in the work place. The GNVQ is marked as the sum of several units and is assessed through unseen examination and portfolio work. It is generally for the less academic pupils - those that don't do AS and A levels.

ASDAM is another programme. It is work related and for pupils that find the paperwork to demanding - the less able pupils who prefer a practical bias.

The GSCEs in technology have a very demanding written element - the average and below average pupils often struggle. They may be able to speak it. They may be able to do it. But they would struggle with the quantity and depth of the content required. I think there ought to be an alternative exam for the less academic pupils. They can have excellent oral and practical skills but struggle with the demands of the written element.

28may03a: Overheard near City and Guilds: Funding and accountability constrains training.

The only way the money is accounted for is in the number of certificates issued. So if the quality is lower the number of certificates is higher and more public expenditure can be justified.

More generally the government's financial controls impose a complicated framework, which those of us working towards a good system of qualifications must cope with. This constrains our efforts to such an extent that we are more concerned with playing the system than delivering mechanisms for good training and assessment.

(also in Education/Training >> Vocational Training)