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Teachers are the Priority

26 Sep Teachers are the Priority

At the recent Teaching Schools Induction conference in Nottingham David Hargreaves, Professor at Wolfson College Cambridge, spoke with great passion and insight about the importance of ˜building successful inter-school alliances that transform our education service into a high performing and self-improving system.” In 2000 the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) at the OECD began tracking academic attainment by the age of 15 in 32 countries.Top of the class was China, followed by South Korea, Finland, Hong Kong and Singapore. The value systems in East Asian countries are in stark contrast to those of the UK, Canada, Australia and the US. Studies have shown that in China and Japan co-operation, fitting in and the broader well being are all valued more highly than competition, personal ability and making a profit. If these value systems have led to such success in East Asia, Hargreaves believes that the teaching school model may lead to improvement in the education system in the UK.

Hargreaves is a strong believer in system leadership  which has three elements at its core:

 1.value: a conviction that leaders should strive for the  success of all schools and their students, not just their own 

2. practices: actively working with, and in, other schools to help them to become successful 

3. ambition: choosing a role as a servant leader for the  greater benefit of the education service as a whole.

The recent article in the Economist entitled ‘The Great Schools Revolution’ provides an excellent oversight of education systems across the world along with a review of the British system and current attempts at reform. However, the final summarising points of the article are perhaps most perceptive. An emphasis on better teacher quality is a common feature of all reforms. Countries like Finland and South Korea make life easier for themselves by recruiting only elite graduates, and paying them accordingly. Mr Gove has said that he wants to raise the degree threshold for teachers and offer golden hello’s in areas of shortage, like science and language teaching. In schools reform, structural progress, new sorts of schools, re-organised old ones, new exams ”can happen very fast. Better teachers take much longer to form. They should be made the priority.

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