A more complex problem

Friday, February 21, 2014


LETTERSFrom Peter Birks, Freshwater Bay:

What an interesting 'blast from the past’ from Alan Kaye (CP letters, 14-02-14).

I arrived at County Hall in 1989 as primary and middle school adviser. Like Alan, I had come from a high-achieving county, Hampshire, where I had worked as headteacher and then as headteacher co-ordinator.

I became principal inspector on the IW in 1992, leaving the authority in 1996 to work extensively in schools and educational projects throughout the country and in USA. I have remained a resident on the Island.

While Alan’s letter contains a relevant commentary on expectation levels on the Island, it is not the whole story.

Blaming students, parents and teachers obscures a more complex picture.

Teachers are our greatest asset: creative teachers the greatest asset of all. Unfortunately, County Hall became denuded of the reliable professional support structures and personnel upon which teachers had come to rely and in which they had placed their trust.

Attach to this the difficulties in attracting the best, high performing teachers from counties such as Oxfordshire and Hampshire in the first place — a factor not unconnected to the debate over a fixed-link to the mainland; add the disruption caused by the politically motivated destruction of the popular three-phase system with middle schools and the effect this had on local teachers and a flavour of the predicament starts to emerge.

Mix with the current political zeal for decentralisation of locally organised educational provision, the pressure on examination results and inspection, and the imbroglio is enhanced.

As Alan says, there are no panaceas but let’s not pretend complacency and low expectation are the only factors at play in this problematic scenario.

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