While we were clapping for the NHS, Paul Rose wondered why teachers who were working through the pandemic too, didn’t get the same recognition.
Many of my closest family and friends work in schools. During lockdown they have quietly and bravely done remarkable work, yet no-one has stood on the streets to applaud them.
It got me thinking. Why isn’t education loved like the NHS?
Watch 24 Hours in A&E and Educating Yorkshire and you’ll see talented doctors and teachers striving to improve the lives of others, often at the expense of their own wellbeing.
So why is it that doctors are (rightly) praised and teachers (very wrongly) distrusted?
I think the reasons are many, but the essence of the problem can be distilled into just two words – service and system.
The NHS is a service created to help people.
Education is a system created to improve society.
Anyone accessing our healthcare service is treated as an individual. It must be this way in order to deliver the best treatment. It’s natural then, that each patient feels seen, heard and valued. That’s what makes it special in most peoples’ eyes.
Of course, this is not the case in the education system. Parents and their children quickly come to understand that there’s little room for individual needs, interests and wishes. Homogenisation is king and must be delivered at any price. The human cost of this ‘systematic’ approach to education is incalculable.
This is wrong and I feel so passionately about it, that six years ago I walked out on my headship to try and develop a sustainable way to turn our system into a service.
In the time since, I’ve worked with amazing mainstream, special and deaf schools, exploring ways that technology can help them work together to personalise education for each and every child.
In doing so, we’ve discovered ways for each school to deliver the teaching they want, to the learners they choose, wherever they are, and whenever they need it.
It’s almost like it was being built for a global pandemic!
The schools we have worked in partnership with have (amongst other things) found new and innovative ways to:
- Personalise teaching to stretch all learners in all subjects, regardless of age and ability, starting from those with the greatest additional needs
- Engage all parents and carers in their child’s teaching
- Teach essential life skills more effectively, especially to the most vulnerable
- Support teachers to learn from each other – secondary learning from primary, mainstream learning from special, deaf teachers learning from, and supporting hearing teachers
This pandemic is offering us, as education professionals, an opportunity to rethink education and work together to provide a quality, personalised education for every child.
In doing so, I reckon that we’ll turn our education system into a service. That’s got to be the best way to improve society and win the public affection we so richly deserve.