In researching for my new book, Re-Examining Success, I was forced to confront some unpleasant truths about my teaching career.
Due to my personal circumstances, I placed a disproportionate value on educational success. I can remember giving assemblies in which I compared GCSE passes to the keys to the door of the future. The more you had at the higher grades, the more options you had to design your future.
However, the headlong rush to maximise examination success came at a price, because, as presently constituted, the educational system in the countries of the UK is a quality controlled rationing system, designed to discard pupils to less than adequate support if they were not able and committed to the examination process.
Currently, we have the obscene practice of ‘off-rolling in English schools. This is the process whereby a student is accepted onto the school roll, and the funding is absorbed by the school who then look to ‘off-roll’ him or her if their academic performance threatens to taint he school’s global performance in the eyes of parents, or the inspection body, OFSTED. Many Multi Academy Trusts have been found to be practicing this procedure, and the deftness with which pupils are ‘off-rolled’ at the point that the finance has entered the Academy coffers, suggest the cynicism with which these young people are being defrauded of an education.
In my defence, I can always claim that I was ‘only doing my job’ in responding to the behavioural and cultural norms within the school system. Unfortunately, until we have a proper national debate about the purposes and processes of education from fundamental principles, then we will fail to find the potential in every child and they, nor we, as a society, can afford to let this happen. Every learner counts if we want a secure, sustainable and progressive society.