Dr Daniel Donoghue examines the recent Green Paper, Building our Industrial Strategy, and its likely impact on Kent.
Dr Keith McLay comments on the photograph of the Prime Minister signing the Article 50 letter below a painting of Sir Robert Walpole.
Dr Amelia Hadfield, Director of the Centre for European Studies, explores the key topics which she believes will arise after the UK Prime Minister triggers Article 50 today.
William Stow, Head of Teacher Education and Development, responds to the House of Commons Select Committee Recruitment and Retention of Teachers report this week, urging the government to heed the warnings outlined in the report.
A leitmotif of current media coverage of education centres around the actual and future shortages of teachers. In the past few years, the print media, specialist sector outlets such as SchoolsWeek and the Times Educational Supplement, as well as the BBC, have queued up to jump on stories which castigate the government over this.
This week, it has been the release of the Select Committee report on the Recruitment and Retention of Teachers. The committee’s chair, Conservative MP Neil Carmichael, is becoming a thorn in the government’s side. He is a vocal opponent of Brexit and a critic of the plan to expand grammar schools. And now his committee has delivered an uncomplimentary verdict on government strategy and policy on the supply of teachers.
Its key messages are ones which have been aired many times, including here at the University, and by Christ Church as a member of the MillionPlus Deans group, in the past few years. The ideologically and politically driven opposition to the involvement of Universities in teacher education which Michael Gove and then Nicky Morgan pursued as policy between 2010 and 2016, has resulted in a fragmentation and disruption of what was a perfectly reliable way of ensuring that government always met its targets to recruit sufficient teachers for the profession each year. During that period, the government has missed its own targets for five years in succession. With the appointment of Justine Greening as Secretary of State, there has been a welcome return to rational decision making which prioritises stabilising the system to ensure a more reliable supply of teachers. It is hoped that this will help to reverse the trend.
Importantly, this report turns attention to another key point. Common sense suggests that it is no good pouring money and policy fad into the recruitment of teachers if at the same time teachers are leaving the profession more quickly and in greater numbers than ever before. The committee rightly highlights two key points as hampering the retention of teachers – the workload that teachers struggle to manage, and the lack of good quality continuing professional development which they are able to access.
The recommendations are clear – firstly, that “The Government and National College for Teaching and Leadership should develop a long-term plan to improve both the supply of new and retention of existing teachers over the next 10 years”; and secondly, that workload and continuing professional development (CPD) must be more clearly addressed by schools, OFSTED and the government in the short and medium term.
However, a third point has been missed. And that is the role that government can play in resourcing CPD. Currently, millions of pounds are spent on tax-free bursaries to entice graduates to train as teachers, but in the subjects for which these are offered sometimes 15-20% of those teachers do not go on to teach, and a further 30% will have left within four years. By any measure, that is not good value for money. I have previously proposed an alternative approach, which would strengthen the slightly soft recommendations of the report, for the government to “include targeted funding and a central statement of annual entitlement”.I believe that there should be a clear consideration of the use of current bursary funding as a way of rewarding retention in the form of CPD vouchers. This could be extended also to offer tuition fee loan repayments to teachers who stay in teaching, as bursary is currently only on offer for some subjects. In the current school funding context, the money will not come from stretched budgets where schools are having to consider laying off staff and cannot maintain crumbling buildings.
Currently, there is no clear strategy for either the reliable supply of teachers nor for the most effective ways to retain and develop the teaching workforce. There is no workforce modelling informing policy and strategy in this area. But with growing student numbers in schools and a rising demographic of teachers and senior leaders in schools, the Government would do well to heed the warnings of the Select Committee and act now on its recommendations.
William Stow is the Head of the School of Teacher Education and Development at Canterbury Christ Church University. Find out more about the School and the opportunities for teacher training.
Professor Linden West was born and brought up in Stoke and has studied the city’s communities. Ahead of the Stoke Central byelection, he asks how has his childhood home become prey to Ukip?
Dr Amelia Hadfield, Director of the Centre for European Studies, looks at how the foreign media reacted to Prime Minister May’s Lancaster House speech.
Dr Mark Ledwidge, Senior Lecturer in American Studies, reflects on the legacy of Obama’s foreign policy and looks ahead to what we might expect from the leadership of Donald Trump.
Peter Vujakovic, Professor of Geography in the School of Human and Life Sciences, explores the use of caricatures in media publications during the festive season.
T’is the season to be jolly! This December many news magazines have decked their covers with humorous caricatures and satirical graphics. The New Statesman has Donald Trump and Theresa May ski jumping …over the cliff edge? The Week has Boris Johnson in the ‘dog-house’. Even Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ cover seems to have been strategically arranged so the title letter ‘M’ provides a devilish touch to Trump’s profile. Time denies intent and notes that given the letter’s “location on the cover, many other subjects in the past have also appeared to sprout extra features. It’s happened to Hillary Clinton at least twice.”
What is clear, however, is the stinging intent in celebrated cartoonist Peter Brookes’ cover image for the Spectator. This features Trump and Putin literally carving-up the globe (in the form of a pudding), with Putin serving himself a large slice of the ‘Middle East’. Brookes’ cartoon is a direct pastiche of one of the most famous political graphics in history, James Gillray’s 1805 ‘The Plum Pudding in Danger’, in which the original protagonists were Pitt and Napoleon. This cartoon has been recycled many times; including Thatcher and Foot, Bush and Gorbachev, and recently Cameron and Sturgeon. Like an element of any great festive pantomime it’s an old joke with a contemporary twist. The globe or map in cartoons has always been subject to the power of the protagonists; to control, ‘cleansing’, fragmentation, or even destruction. Numerous examples abound, from Lenin sweeping the globe clear of capitalists, clergy and kings, to Putin ripping a map of Ukraine apart. But are these images under threat?
As Will Self has noted satire must ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’, and Brookes’ work does this. There is, however, a danger that true satire might be endangered by two contemporary processes, first a ‘scatter-gun’ approach in which, as Self has pointed out, the ‘afflicted’ have been made uncomfortable by some of the images produced by cartoonists; he cites cartoons of Mohammed. And secondly, the growing problem of ‘self-censorship’; a reaction to the threats of both violent extremists and the litigious tendencies of the rich and powerful. In the same month as Brookes’ cartoon, US artist Alison Jackson, who has recently published photographs with Trump ‘look-a-likes’, has claimed that she has to fight hard against ‘self-censorship’. “It makes you frightened, it makes you put the brakes on and that is very worrying.” She goes on to note, “Whether it’s artists or cartoonists or satirists, there has to be free and radical thinking. Without that we get into the realms of dictatorship.”
Dr Steve Long, Senior Lecturer in Modern US Foreign Policy, asks ‘what next for US-Cuban relations?’
Academics from our Politics and International Relations programme offer their initial thoughts on Donald Trump winning the 2016 US Presidential election.