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Audrey McKie

Despatches: Undercover Teacher

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just thought I'd ask those of you who have seeen the documentary what they thought of it.

It did not tell me anything I did not know. However, it helped to expose the educational policies of Tony Blair.

I just cannot understand how anyone can teach in such conditions. I suppose some people would argue that by using secret cameras she betrayed her colleagues. However, sometimes you have to use undercover methods to expose the truth.

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[ sometimes you have to use undercover methods to expose the truth.

So what is the truth, John?

That documentary made me a little angry, so much so, i stopped watching it after about 35 minutes. It made me wonder:

Is it fair that teachers and schools should fail their inspections because of a handful of pupils who cannot be controled? I agree that sending them on a day trip as if they'd done something to deserve it is wrong and doesn't give a fair representation of the school, but is it the teachers' fault that they cannot be controled? sometimes, but not necessarily.

On the topic of lesson plans:

Do teachers have time to provide supply teachers with detailed lesson plans for them to take over? Not always and certainly not for long-term absences. I could do it if I am out for one day, but if the supply teacher is not a linguist, they're still not going to be able to teach. So, indeed, the cover work isn't challenging, but we are always asked not to give something too complicated so that anybody can do the lesson.

As far as long-term supply teachers are concerned, those who work in my school are excellent and they are provided with SoWs and can plan their lessons themselves. It is also the school's responsability to take care of their supply teachers, so that they'll want to come back. This will in turn make the pupils think that they are part of the staff if they are often in school, therefore trigger more respect. This is one of the major problems with supply (and new) teachers, pupils 'try it on' with them until they become a familiar sighting in school, part of the furniture, if you like.

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So what is the truth, John?

That documentary made me a little angry, so much so, i stopped watching it after about 35 minutes. It made me wonder: Is it fair that teachers and schools should fail their inspections because of a handful of pupils who cannot be controled? I agree that sending them on a day trip as if they'd done something to deserve it is wrong and doesn't give a fair representation of the school, but is it the teachers' fault that they cannot be controled? sometimes, but not necessarily.

What the film did was to show how Ofsted does not discover what really goes on in schools. I do not blame teachers for that. It is a natural reaction to the daft inspection system that we have.

I also thought the programme exposed the way schools (and the government) are using GNVQ exams to give the false impression that standards are improving. Once again, this is fully understandable when you have a government obsessed with league tables.

The most important message was that the policy of inclusion is creating terrible damage to our schools. It is clearly impossible to teach when you have several highly disruptive pupils in the class.

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What the film did was to show how Ofsted does not discover what really goes on in schools. I do not blame teachers for that. It is a natural reaction to the daft inspection system that we have.

I also thought the programme exposed the way schools (and the government) are using GNVQ exams to give the false impression that standards are improving. Once again, this is fully understandable when you have a government obsessed with league tables.

The most important message was that the policy of inclusion is creating terrible damage to our schools. It is clearly impossible to teach when you have several highly disruptive pupils in the class.

I think that your first two points are roughly similar. Schools are put under so much pressure from outside agencies that they have little time left to deal with what is really important life inside the school, the teaching and the welfare of our students. Indeed, like you say, John, it is little surprising that schools have developed survival methods or shortcuts to make them meet the rigorous targets set by Ofsted and their like.

The problem with the league tables was very well illustrated by a dispute my colleagues and I had with the 6th form college. Most of our A* students in Languages who carry on with the subject at AS Level find themselves totally lost, submerged by very complex grammatical concepts that they never have heard of in secondary school. 6th form tutors complain that we don't teach properly (not enough grammar, etc) yet, we teach very well for the pupils to achieve the best possible grade. Who's right and who's wrong?

As for the inclusion policy, I am sure that it was a great idea to start with but I don't think that school have been given the tools to deal with so many disruptive pupils. Rather than making disruptive, problem pupils more 'mainstream', it has had the opposite effect, making borderline pupils or even 'good' pupils go to 'the dark side' because they can see other pupils geting away with things. They try it on, before you know it, half the class develop an attitude, they get rude, rowdy and finally they fight, throw chairs at each other (I'm not even joking) and the school goes onto a downward spiral... In my opinion, inclusion and assimilation can only work if only a few individuals are dealt with at a time. Schools otherwise find themselves overwhelmed with trouble they can't deal with at once.

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What the film did was to show how Ofsted does not discover what really goes on in schools. I do not blame teachers for that. It is a natural reaction to the daft inspection system that we have.

I also thought the programme exposed the way schools (and the government) are using GNVQ exams to give the false impression that standards are improving. Once again, this is fully understandable when you have a government obsessed with league tables.

The most important message was that the policy of inclusion is creating terrible damage to our schools. It is clearly impossible to teach when you have several highly disruptive pupils in the class.

I think that your first two points are roughly similar. Schools are put under so much pressure from outside agencies that they have little time left to deal with what is really important life inside the school, the teaching and the welfare of our students. Indeed, like you say, John, it is little surprising that schools have developed survival methods or shortcuts to make them meet the rigorous targets set by Ofsted and their like.

The problem with the league tables was very well illustrated by a dispute my colleagues and I had with the 6th form college. Most of our A* students in Languages who carry on with the subject at AS Level find themselves totally lost, submerged by very complex grammatical concepts that they never have heard of in secondary school. 6th form tutors complain that we don't teach properly (not enough grammar, etc) yet, we teach very well for the pupils to achieve the best possible grade. Who's right and who's wrong?

As for the inclusion policy, I am sure that it was a great idea to start with but I don't think that school have been given the tools to deal with so many disruptive pupils. Rather than making disruptive, problem pupils more 'mainstream', it has had the opposite effect, making borderline pupils or even 'good' pupils go to 'the dark side' because they can see other pupils geting away with things. They try it on, before you know it, half the class develop an attitude, they get rude, rowdy and finally they fight, throw chairs at each other (I'm not even joking) and the school goes onto a downward spiral... In my opinion, inclusion and assimilation can only work if only a few individuals are dealt with at a time. Schools otherwise find themselves overwhelmed with trouble they can't deal with at once.

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What the film did was to show how Ofsted does not discover what really goes on in schools. I do not blame teachers for that. It is a natural reaction to the daft inspection system that we have.

I also thought the programme exposed the way schools (and the government) are using GNVQ exams to give the false impression that standards are improving. Once again, this is fully understandable when you have a government obsessed with league tables.

The most important message was that the policy of inclusion is creating terrible damage to our schools. It is clearly impossible to teach when you have several highly disruptive pupils in the class.

I think that your first two points are roughly similar. Schools are put under so much pressure from outside agencies that they have little time left to deal with what is really important life inside the school, the teaching and the welfare of our students. Indeed, like you say, John, it is little surprising that schools have developed survival methods or shortcuts to make them meet the rigorous targets set by Ofsted and their like.

The problem with the league tables was very well illustrated by a dispute my colleagues and I had with the 6th form college. Most of our A* students in Languages who carry on with the subject at AS Level find themselves totally lost, submerged by very complex grammatical concepts that they never have heard of in secondary school. 6th form tutors complain that we don't teach properly (not enough grammar, etc) yet, we teach very well for the pupils to achieve the best possible grade. Who's right and who's wrong?

As for the inclusion policy, I am sure that it was a great idea to start with but I don't think that school have been given the tools to deal with so many disruptive pupils. Rather than making disruptive, problem pupils more 'mainstream', it has had the opposite effect, making borderline pupils or even 'good' pupils go to 'the dark side' because they can see other pupils geting away with things. They try it on, before you know it, half the class develop an attitude, they get rude, rowdy and finally they fight, throw chairs at each other (I'm not even joking) and the school goes onto a downward spiral... In my opinion, inclusion and assimilation can only work if only a few individuals are dealt with at a time. Schools otherwise find themselves overwhelmed with trouble they can't deal with at once.

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