I read today that teaching schools are to help us approach out implementation of the new national curriculum. Oh joy of joys. It seems to me that if there is a problem that has to be solved by schools (usually created by the DfE) then it is teaching schools that has to do this. Why I am so sceptical?
I started my career working at the worst school in the worst local authority, we knew we were dreadful teachers because the deputy head that was appointed from the LA in order to rescue us told us that the reason the school was failing was because of us, the teachers. I must have been a terrible teacher.
Three years later I found myself working in a school that was to become a teaching school. David Hargreaves addressed us. He told us that we were the best group of staff he had come across (or at least that is what I heard).
Hang on, I thought, how can I go from being one of the worst teachers in the country to one of the best?
We can have a debate about what makes one school better than another. That is not what I want to consider in this post, my question is what makes one body of staff better than another? Who is to say that the staff body in a teaching school is the best place to go to for information about curriculum change?
I worry about this with good reason. When I worked in a teaching school we were praised by our management for 'innovation'. In reality the decisions that were made regarding the science curriculum were at best poorly considered at worst disastrous for our students. I would not have wished any of those ideas onto another school.
In my final year at the school I managed to undermine sufficiently the appalling key stage 3 curriculum (although I can't take much credit myself, the other staff saw the results in the poor ability of the GCSE students). They were then going to re-write the key stage 3 curriculum. I didn't see the results, but again the outline plan was not something that I would want to impose on another school. Am I an expert? No. My opinion about the curriculum that this school may or may not have is irrelevant and it is probably working well.
If I were still working there my opinion would be relevant. It would be sought by schools in the area and my interpretation of the new national curriculum would be sold to others schools as being a good one on the basis that I work at a teaching school.
What makes the opinion of the teacher at the worst school in the worst LA worth that much less than the teacher at an outstanding teaching school, when the change between the two is one job application away?