Gove’s latest attack on the teaching profession is to insist on shorter holidays and longer teaching days. Pause for a second and you will hear a very long and weary sigh emitted from the entire teaching profession. A vision of a fatigued old donkey pulling a cart full of rocks up a hill comes to mind. Then its ignorant owner piles on yet more bags, whips it and asks it to break into a trot. The owner is bemused, for the donkey doesn’t go faster at all, instead it collapses into an exhausted heap.
As a profession we cannot allow this man to bring such baseless and ill-informed ideas to the table. There is NO EVIDENCE that more teaching will raise standards. However, there is LOTS OF EVIDENCE that better teaching will. And better teaching comes when teachers are supported and the profession highly respected by government.
Contrary to Gove’s idea, here is the evidence that shorter holidays, longer teaching days, and exhausted pupils and teachers does not lead to academic success:
Finland is one of the most successful countries in the world at educating its children.
Children start school at 7 years old.
Teacher training is 5 years – all teachers begin their career at Masters level.
Teaching is a highly respected profession, on a par with doctors and lawyers.
Holidays are longer than in the UK.
Teaching days are shorter than in the UK.
Children are usually taught in mixed ability classes.
Private schools aren’t allowed, paying for schooling is illegal (the Tory party won’t like that).
There is far less disparity between school performances.
Schools have a flexible, less prescriptive curriculum.
Finland is at the top of the table for time spent in school against academic success. Their system works.
They also have a much fairer society where socio-economic differences aren’t supported and maintained by a skewed school system which is favoured by privileged people like Gove himself.
Why would anyone in their right mind want to align our school system with a country like Korea where children do as much as thirteen hours study a day? Korea has a very low teaching hours to academic success ratio –it’s 24th out of 30 countries. This means that while it might be high on the overall league table for academic success, it has a very inefficient system and the lives of its young children are in effect blighted by hours and hours of unnecessary schooling. In truth, they don’t have a childhood!
Why doesn’t Gove listen to the people who have studied this and can show him the evidence like Dylan Willam or John Hattie. I will just shout it out very loudly in case he is actually listening for a change:
TEACHING WON’T IMPROVE WITH MORE OF THE SAME. INSTEAD TRY DIFFERENT AND BETTER AND ABOVE ALL, USE EVIDENCE TO INFORM YOUR DECISIONS!