Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A good education

My meetings this morning took me over towards Four Lanes. I decided to go back the Countryman for lunch.

The Countryman at Piece is a famous pub in the area and Nick Lake has been its landlord for many years. I was a regular back in the 90’s. After training sessions on the athletics track at Carn Brea, every week we used to head up to the Countryman for a drink, a bite to eat and a go at their well attended quiz. The Cornwall Athletic Club team (abbreviated on our quiz sheet to CAC) rarely won but we always thought we might and, trying became a weekly ritual!

I had a good lunch there today before heading down to Trewirgie School for a meeting with head teacher Dave Symons. I have known Dave for over twenty years – again because we were both runners in Cornwall AC. He has been an incredibly successful head teacher at Trewirgie and is hugely respected in Redruth for what he has achieved but he has decided to retire at the end of this year citing the burden of paperwork and bureaucracy as one of the reasons.

I wanted to learn more. I am instinctively opposed to the way trite managerialism, targets and tick box routines have displaced genuine responsibility and accountability in so many areas of our lives today. The primary purpose of testing in schools should be to understand the needs of the individual child so they get the support they need. Once it just becomes a bureaucratic process – where people try to jump through arbitrary hoops so they “look good on paper”, then it’s time for change.

People with a sense of vocation for teaching are motivated first and foremost by the satisfaction they gain from passing on knowledge to the next generation and developing the pupils in their charge. These human values cannot always be measured by some score on a piece of paper. I learnt a lot today – even being taken through various SATS tests today and seeing comparisons with work done twenty years previously.