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John Simkin

Schools are staffed by leftists.

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First while I agree that the lack of education is factor, its not because the schools are that bad but rather its the lack of desire by the students. I've seen this first hand. They don't care. The schools are partly to blame, they just pass these kids along rather than keep them back until they actually learn.

I have taught in schools since 1977 and I profoundly disagree with your analysis of the situation. Motivation is a problem but this is not directly the reason why kids from disadvantaged backgrounds fail to do well at school. We have to get things in the right order:

1. Children without the right support from the home begin to struggle with their academic work.

2. They receive low grades, negative comments, are placed in lower sets, etc. To be told you are failing lowers your motivation. This of course reduces motivation and they fall further behind.

The answer to this problem is for the government to take measures that helps to reduce the disadvantages they face in the classroom. Governments have never been willing to do this because it would go down badly with people from advantageous backgrounds. It is this group that applies the most pressure on politicians. In other words, it would be a vote loser. (A large percentage of people from disadvantaged backgrounds do not bother to vote in elections.)

Did I mention our schools are mostly run and staffed by leftists?

Where did you get the idea from? Unfortunately, every school that I have ever taught in has been run and staffed by people with strong conservative attitudes. This is not surprising as everybody in education have achieved academic success by using the existing system. They are therefore slow to see the flaws in the system. For example, most teachers are in favour of streaming or setting. As they have never experienced what it is like to be in a bottom stream, they have little understanding of the negative impact it has on student motivation.

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Did I mention our schools are mostly run and staffed by leftists?

Where did you get the idea from? Unfortunately, every school that I have ever taught in has been run and staffed by people with strong conservative attitudes. This is not surprising as everybody in education have achieved academic success by using the existing system. They are therefore slow to see the flaws in the system. For example, most teachers are in favour of streaming or setting. As they have never experienced what it is like to be in a bottom stream, they have little understanding of the negative impact it has on student motivation.

Just to agree with John and add a little....

As NUT rep, I would welcome a school (any school??) that was staffed with 'leftists'...One run by leftists sounds utopian!!

When it comes to streaming and setting, many teachers believe (despite evidence and experience that suggests the contrary) that this practice will enhance exam results (incl value added) and therefore is intrinsically "good". These people tend to find 'bottom sets' a 'challenge' and the response is low-key lessons in which there is little real learning, a lot of colouring and/or cutting and sticking. In these lessons neither staff nor student benefit, and an unproductive compromise is reached.

This is not to say that there can be no challenge in colouring or in cut and paste. It just tends not to happen. Talk to students in 'bottom sets' and ask them which they find the best lessons, and most will (perhaps grudgingly) suggest that the best AND most challenging lessons are those in which they have to think (often acknowledging VAK issues) and enable them to think.

Putting people in 'bottom sets' and treating them as such will condemn them to bottom set lifestyles for 80 years. They become unable to enter 'higher' sets as they are not allowed or encouraged to acquire the skills and/or knowledge sets that these other classes develop. Any mobility upwards therefore 'proves' the case for setting and streaming because th 'bottom set' students can't cope with the higher levels. It thus becomes self-fulfilling.

I'm glad I'm and alpha baby........

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Putting people in 'bottom sets' and treating them as such will condemn them to bottom set lifestyles for 80 years. They become unable to enter 'higher' sets as they are not allowed or encouraged to acquire the skills and/or knowledge sets that these other classes develop. Any mobility upwards therefore 'proves' the case for setting and streaming because th 'bottom set' students can't cope with the higher levels. It thus becomes self-fulfilling.

I believe New Labour describes this process as "equal opportunity"

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