Russell of discontent

Ofsted Inspector: Well Mr Britland, your lesson was outstanding! The learning that took place in your room was inspirational. Your use of technology was mind boggling and I have never seen a department or school run so well.

Mr Britland: Why thank you very much. We work hard here to make this a successful school.

Ofsted Inspector: Whoa hold on there…let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. What university did you go to?

Mr Britland: University of East London. Why?

Ofsted Inspector: I’m afraid that’s not good enough…as a consequence your lesson was inadequate and your school unsuccessful.

The Guardian today reported that while addressing the Independent Academies Association (IAA) conference in central London, Lord Adonis said: “You need a good mix of teachers (in secondary schools) of course, at any successful school, but you cannot be a successful school unless you at least have a certain proportion of your teachers who have themselves come from leading universities”.

Is Lord Adonis, a man whom I used to have respect for, suggesting that this is going to be something else that schools are going to be judged against? Now I will concede that there is value in having teachers that have been educated at leading universities, as long as they are able to engage with the students that they are teaching. However, this is a standard that should be applied to all teachers.

Why are our politicians so obsessed with top universities? A school should be deemed a success on the educational outcomes of its student body, both academic and social. It shouldn’t be deemed a success by exam results alone or by the number of state school students who get accepted at leading universities; Or for that matter, the number of Cambridge graduate teachers it has on its staff. Education should be about learning and nothing else. Not exams, learning.

You can’t always quantify success. Success is not always nuanced.