The good, the bad and the irrelevant


Zenna Atkins’ comment that “every school have a useless teacher” was both insensitive and nonsensical. Upon reflection she appears to have backtracked somewhat from her original point. As such, the tabloid ‘outrage’ response misses the wider point and the reality for many children taught in much of the state sector. For many, the problem is not having one bad teacher, but only one good teacher.

For my part, I undertook studies in history at university because the only teacher that inspired me to any degree was my A-level history teacher. Although she was a cardigan wearing, Guardian reading socialist, her ability to teach was a cut above the substandard teaching throughout the rest of my education.

If 'outrage' is what you want, Panorama recently revealed that in the last twenty years fewer than twenty teachers have been struck off for incompetence in the whole of the UK. That simple fact is worthy of twenty front-page reports in the Express and Daily Mail. I’ve been taught by in excess of twenty teachers that should be sacked.

Our system needs Gove’s radical reforms (and more besides), but he is coming up against the usual unholy alliance of vested interests. The best way to get rid of bad teachers is to make them accountable to the consumers of education. If they weren’t up to the job, they would no longer have one.

Whether of not the people running Ofsted think having one bad teacher is a good thing or not makes little difference in the grand scheme of things. Regulators lack – and always will – the means necessary to turn around our failing schools.