02 Dec My Best Teacher
Consultations are currently underway regarding possible changes to the GCSE examinations and one of those changes includes the proposal that teachers will only have limited access to mark schemes-a retrograde step in my view and one that will expose students to the very real probability that the grade a student achieves in an examination will not necessarily be based on their innate ability but more on the effectiveness of the teacher to interpret, understand and implement the intricacies of a ‘level of response’ mark scheme without actually having any access to that mark scheme. At least that is the situation in my own subject-History. As with a number of Gove’s proposed reforms to the education system there seems a misguided desire to return to the education system of 30 years ago!
My own secondary education took place in the late 70s and early 80s and now, more than ever, I am very much aware how dependent I actually was on the quality of the teaching. Indeed I owe a great deal to my History teacher Margaret Hodgson; she was detailed, meticulous and thorough in her approach to the teaching of History. She moulded her A level students into superb essay writers, insightful analysers of 16th century historical source material and effective independent learners. Looking back, without her input into my education I doubt I would have flourished so much at university and I certainly wouldn’t have become the teacher I am today. But she was the exception- my English teacher was a bright young thing from Cambridge who had lost his way in a large comprehensive school. Lessons were unprepared and he loved to be distracted by some of the more wayward girls in the class who wanted to talk about everything but the set English texts! In French our teacher, another Cambridge graduate, was on extended sick leave for the last two terms of our A level studies (she never returned) so we had to make do with the occasional supply teacher and work set, but not marked, by the Head of the French department. In the midst of such mediocrity, Margaret Hodgson was a shining light of inspiration. She was the teacher who gave me the wings to fly and for that I will be forever grateful!