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Cheers - AE

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Quango Britain - look after your own

I don't know what Alex Dolan was thinking of when she chose to become a whistleblower and film inside schools for Channel 4's Dispatches. She may have shed light on pupils misbehaving and a class having 26 teachers in six months (how many is that as an average per week children? (a)0 (b)1 (c)some (d)many) but she was never going to be thanked for it, and sure enough the General Teaching Quango Council has expressed its thanks to her fro bringing this up by banning her from teaching for a year for 'breaching pupils' trust'. I'm not at all clear on where the breach of trust comes in because it seems to me that this was about exposing problems in state education rather than having a pop at the children as such, so I suspect 'breaching teachers' trust that no fellow teacher will break the silence' might have been a more accurate description. And does that 12 month ban strike anyone else as just plain vindictive? If someone has really breached the trust of the children I'd question whether a ban of only a year is long enough, and if they haven't I'd ask why a ban is necessary at all. A 12 month ban says 'keep your mouth shut and your nose clean from now on, and we'll probably let you back into the fold'.
...Miss Dolan stood by her decision to make the documentary for Channel 4's Dispatches programme.
"This is a sad day for investigative journalism," she said.
"Programmes like Dispatches have an important role to play in drawing to the attention of the public matters of concern whether these are in hospitals, within the police force or in schools. I find it beyond comprehension that the GTC can spend three years investigating me when they should be looking on their own doorstep.
"Instead they have decided to sweep it under the carpet and persecute the whistle-blower."
That's about the size of it. Why try to tackle the problem when its infinitely easier simply to shoot the messenger.

The only bright spot in the story is that one incident apparently shown in the programme was that one school sent its problem pupils off on a trip so they weren't around during the Ofsted inspectors' visit. Some might be appalled by that, but I think it's a laudable bit of creative thinking that should be emulated by schools everywhere. Maybe the Kiwis should try it...
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