Today, I want to ask the Qualified Tutor Community: what is your reaction to the Government’s White Paper 2022 and do you think it will make a difference?
The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP has vowed to “ensure every child can access cornerstone literacy and numeracy skills, wherever they live and learn”. He has highlighted three areas which will mean more of a prescribed curriculum. This is being sold as solving the teacher workload crisis.
Does this one-size-fits-all approach seem appropriate if we are aiming to improve our education system? The Secretary of State has promised to enhance the working week by making it longer. Will this help our burnt-out teachers and solve the current recruitment crisis?
He has also said that his administration will work on “levelling up attendance and behaviour”. But the paper seems to fall some way short of addressing how schools are going to do this. There is to be a “Parent Pledge” through which parents will be informed if their child is falling behind, up to 6 million tutoring courses by 2024 and a secured future for the Education Endowment Foundation.
It is not to say that all these ideas are off the mark. I particularly enjoy reading the EEF’s research and it is offering valuable insights to various aspects of how we learn. We as a tutoring community will be very happy to see the recognition of tuition as a key part in a child’s educational support package.
I am, however, sceptical about the Parent Pledge.
Informing a parent should be obvious and we as teachers have been trained to respond like this in any event. The key to this is what happens next. How will parents be supported to help their child ‘catch up’?
I am wondering if this paper really promotes the shake-up that the system requires. Do children get to enjoy school anymore? Does this do anything to address the building mental health crisis in our young people? I am not claiming to have all the answers.
However, private tutoring has been really liberating for me. My students get to know me, and my personality has returned after years in the classroom. I am not following the latest initiative or teaching a “seven parts” lesson. We can carry on next time if we run out of time without a new starter. We can adapt and dive off in a different direction if it feels right.
The learning is flexible, and it feels powerful. The student has a voice and can change the direction of their learning if they feel it will benefit them. Who are the teachers that children remember? I personally remember those who were unique. We really don’t need all our teachers following the same script. How bland and uninspiring, not to mention a far cry from the right mood for effective and enjoyable learning.
I accept that, in a world with a prescribed curriculum and examinations, we cannot escape a certain need for unity, but must we really drain the life and soul from all involved in education?