Mary Macleod on The Importance of Teaching

MP welcomes Secretary of State for Education’s White Paper

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Mary Macleod

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“I welcome the White Paper issued recently by the Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, and the focus it has given to what is perhaps the most important issue within our education system today – the quality of teaching,” writes Brentford and Isleworth MP Mary Macleod.

“I can remember several inspiring teachers that I encountered during my time school that I can say truly changed my life in some way. Hearing from a recent OFSTED report that 37% of teaching in our schools is merely ‘satisfactory’ is not acceptable. Part of the reason that some teachers are delivering what is described as “dull and uninspiring” lessons is, I believe, down to the years of increasing top-down control, targets and directives and a lack of support on issues such as discipline in the classroom.

“In our area, I believe we are fortunate to have many good teachers and this is evident by the results achieved, which continue to be above the national average. When I asked Mr Pattar, the Head Teacher of The Heathland School what he believes is the key to the success at the school he said: “I think at The Heathland, we are very clear about our core purpose – high achievement for all pupils. We work hard to ensure our ethos, our structures and our staff all focus on this purpose. Our expectations are based on old fashioned, traditional standards.”

“At a recent visit to The Green School the Head Teacher, Mrs Butterfield also spoke of the importance of both the Head and the Senior Management Team of the school in delivering the school’s ethos of achievement. She believes they act as the vital role models in the school and stress this ethos in all that they do – an approach that certainly seems to work, given the ongoing excellent results from The Green School.

“However, there is always more we can do at all our schools and the White Paper on Teaching will help by:

  • Boosting teachers’ and head teachers’ authority by providing new powers on detentions and searching
  • Improving teacher training and expanding the excellent Teach First programme
  • Encouraging the best schools to work with less successful schools to help them to improve
  • Bringing in the Pupil Premium to help those from poorer families achieve the results we expect from all pupils

“At Parliamentary Questions recently, I asked the Secretary of State for Education what more we can do to address the bureaucracy for teachers who were receiving some 4,000 pages of directives from the government each year. He said: “We are removing bureaucracy at every point. Not only are we slimming down the national curriculum, but we have got rid of the self-evaluation form, which could run to more than 100 pages. We have also got rid of financial management standards in schools, which was another burden that head teachers said that they did not want. We are doing this because we believe in trusting heads to do their best for the children whom it is their mission to educate.”

“I look forward to working with the schools in my constituency in this spirit of professionalism and creativity and to hearing the stories about more inspirational teachers and the way they’ve changed the lives of young people in our area.”

December 23, 2010