Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Religious education teacher at £23,000-a-year British private school says 'daughters had more fun when their parents didn't bother to educate them'

With a reputation for excellence and fees of more than £20,000 a year, St Paul's Girls' School prides itself on its stellar results.  So parents may be surprised to learn the views of one of its teachers – who claims 'happiness and success don't turn on A*s and a place at Oxford'.

Blanche Girouard, who teaches religious education at the West London school, faces a backlash after also suggesting girls were happier when they were simply expected to marry rather than go to university.

Writing for The Oldie magazine under the heading, 'Not so long ago parents didn't bother to educate their daughters – who had more fun as a result', Ms Girouard argued that 'something has gone very wrong' with education.

She went on to paint a surprisingly rosy picture of an era when 'everything seemed to be geared towards marriage' and 'parents really didn't seem to care' about educating girls.

Although Ms Girouard acknowledges that 'it seems heinous that parents had such limited ambition for their bright daughters,' she adds: 'And yet there are aspects of that era that are enviable.

Back then nobody cared about exams.' Ms Girouard was once head girl at the school, which costs up to £7,854 per term and counts journalist Rachel Johnson and Labour MP Harriet Harman among its past pupils.

She bemoans how 'today's girls aren't going on nature walks or learning poetry off by heart – they're cramming their heads full of facts'.

She adds: 'It's time we backed off and gave today's girls the time and space to work out what they actually want ... Happiness and success don't turn on A*s and a place at Oxford.'

Last night, parents who have daughters at the school strongly disagreed with the comments.

One mother, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: 'I don't worry about my daughter having too much pressure in a school situation. My girl loves being in that environment.' Another parent branded the teacher's views 'old-fashioned'.

Ms Girouard declined to comment further on her article.  The high mistress of St Paul's Girls' School was unavailable for comment.


Sir Michael Wilshaw: Urgent action is needed to improve failing British secondary schools

In the annual Ofsted report, the chief inspector of schools highlights poor standards in the north of England and the Midlands

Urgent action is needed to tackle the “deeply troubling” poor standards of secondary schools in the north of England and the Midlands, the head of Ofsted says today.

Sir Michael Wilshaw points the finger at local politicians for failing to do enough to prevent standards slipping in major northern cities and their satellite towns.

Last year the number of students in poor-performing secondary schools shot up from 100,000 to 170,000 in the space of just a year.

While it was unclear last night how many pupils were now attending “inadequate” schools, Sir Michael’s annual report says more than 400,000 children in the North and Midlands were attending schools deemed either inadequate or requiring improvement.

In the report, 16 local authority areas are highlighted where fewer than 60 per cent of children attend good or outstanding secondary schools, and make less than average progress and achieve lower than average grades at GCSE.

All but three of these are in the North and Midlands and many of them are satellite towns of major cities.

Mr Wilshaw says local councils in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield and their satellite towns needs to work with MPs, chief executives and head teachers in a way that organisations worked together in the 1990s and early 2000s to stem the poor performance of London secondary schools.

The London Challenge, implemented by the Labour government in 2003 saw struggling schools in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Lewisham, Hackney and Westminster team up with more successful schools in the city to boost standards.

“We recognise there are areas of the country which are more behind, which is why we launched our national teaching service."
Tory source

The initiative also saw independent education experts – known as London Challenge Advisers – appointed to the struggling schools.

Speaking at the launch of his fourth annual report, Sir Michael says that if cities like Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield are to be the “engine rooms” of a Northern Powerhouse, they need to work with the towns on their borders to raise attainment and close skills gaps across a wider area.

He calls for “urgent collective action” from local politicians, MPs, chief executives and head teachers of the type seen in London in the late 1990s to raise education standards.

He also calls for teachers who trained in poor-performing areas to be offered financial incentives to stay put afterwards.

He says action is needed to address the capacity issues facing England’s education system, including a shortage of high-quality secondary school leaders, especially in these two problem areas.

The report shows teacher recruitment is a problem across the country, with continued shortages in key subjects like science, technology and maths.

This is exacerbated by the number of newly-qualified teachers leaving to teach abroad or in the independent sector.

He says children in the Midlands and North of England were much less likely to attend a good or outstanding secondary school than their counterparts in the South.

But he adds the divide could not be explained away by the higher levels of economic deprivation in the North and Midlands.

He clarifies there is no difference in the quality of primary schools across the country or in the achievement of seven-year-olds and 11-year-olds at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

Last year’s report showed 71 per cent of pupils attended good or outstanding secondary schools in the country.

A Tory source said the report did show the areas “where schools had embraced education reform and got on board with a lot of the programs which are making a real difference”.

But he added: “We recognise there are areas of the country which are more behind, which is why we launched our national teaching service.

“It is so disappointing that Labour has turned away from the reforms, such as academies and free schools, which put the head teachers in charge, rather than government ministers and politicians.”


Australia:  Around 1 in 10 teaching students fail trial numeracy, literacy exam

It's mainly desperates who would want to teach in Australia's chaotic State schools -- and you can't expect much of desperates.  The States would have to get a handle on classroom discipline if better quality candidates are to be attracted to teaching 

About 10 per cent of teaching students failed to meet required standards of literacy and numeracy, results from a trial exam show.

About 5,000 students sat the test, which is designed to ensure teaching graduates are in the top 30 per cent of Australians when it comes to literacy and numeracy.

Of the students who took part, 92 per cent passed the literacy test and 90 per cent passed the numeracy test.

The testing was conducted in capital cities, as well as in Albury in New South Wales and Ballarat in Victoria.

If the results from the pilot study were replicated nationally, potentially 1,800 teaching graduates last year would have failed to make the grade.

The test will be mandatory from July next year and students will have to pass before they can graduate and go on to work in a classroom.

The Australian Education Union said the results showed a need for a minimum entry requirements for teaching courses.

Union president Correna Haythorpe said the Federal Government should focus on how students are selected for teaching training.

"We have had concerns for a number of years that entry standards for teaching courses are too low," she said.

"Students need to be identified and supported at the beginning of their teaching course, not find out at the end that they have not made the grade.

"We believe if the Government is serious about attracting the top 30 per cent, then they need to ensure minimum entry standards apply at the beginning of a teaching course."

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the findings justified the Government's focus on teacher quality.

"Parents, principals, all stakeholders in school education should have complete confidence that graduates from our universities with teaching qualifications are among some of the best and brightest in the land," Senator Birmingham said.

"We are really putting it on the universities who are training our teachers to make sure they have confidence in the capabilities of teachers before they graduate.

"It's quite fair and reasonable that universities — as the providers of teaching graduates — should be providing teaching graduates that are of the highest possible standard."

From next year, it will be up to universities to decide whether to set the test as an entry requirement or to provide it during teaching training.


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