I’ve always said the task of improving government schools is to change teachers’ skill and will.
Building their teaching skills is do-able, but the big battle is the will – changing their mindset (and in fact even changing their skills is dependent on changing their mindset).
Now, many government schools (and even some private ones) close half an hour early for three months over the winter because, the teachers argue, it gets cold and darker early, and government offices also close earlier during the winter.
This justification is of course entirely self-serving. There is no reason at all to close early, especially in our school, where all our students, and most of our teacher, live close by.
So yesterday we had a staff meeting to discuss this, where I pointed out that each student would lose almost 25 hours of learning by closing early for three months.
At the end of our long discussion, most of our teachers still wanted to close early. It is incredibly frustrating, that after six months of work in the school, some teachers are still determined to put their own good ahead of the students’ good. As I said, it’s a mindset thing.
I could have forced through a decision to keep to the school open until 4pm (our usual opening hours) – and perhaps I should have – but you have to try to take teachers with you on these decisions.
As an alternative, I have proposed that we run a supervised Homework Club each day from 3.30 – 4pm, so that at least the students remain in school studying until 4pm.
Our teachers often complain that our students are not committed to learning. Perhaps this Homework Club will demonstrate to some teachers that it is not the students who lack commitment.