SchoolThis week at Marton House we are in the unique position of having a work experience person here who isn’t a student doing experience because his course demands it, he is actually a science teacher who has chosen to further his knowledge within the media industry.

Upon watching a section of The Platform featuring a head teacher talking about reflection and what it means to run a school in these modern times it provoked an emotional and interesting response from Guy, which of course we asked him to put into a 500 word essay so we could publish it here 🙂

These are the thoughts of Guy Jones about running an educational establishment as a business.

Traditionally, teachers have viewed themselves as their own bosses, master of their own castles if you like. As a relatively new teacher myself, I have noticed over the last couple of years a shift in much of the thinking behind education and perhaps the mentality by which schools are run.

Much of the labour governments policy regarding education has been to create more of a marketplace for parents, emphasizing freedom of choice between local schools. This in turn has perhaps caused a shift in the way that schools now have to present and manage themselves. With competition comes the necessity to constantly improve and adapt which has meant that many schools have adopted a much more businesslike approach.

It was highly publicised when high-flying business executives were called upon to run new academy schools in tough inner city areas. Whilst they may tend to move on after a couple of years, many schools have certainly befitted from their strong leadership and business acumen. Other evidence for the shift can also be seen in school websites. Once merely uninteresting pages of information, many are now highly professional marketing tools, serving to raise the profile of schools within their communities. Some evidence is much more anecdotal. For example, it seems to me that teachers regarded as unsatisfactory are now much more likely to undergo competency procedures and ultimately lose their jobs. Whilst this may create a sense of paranoia and fear amongst staff, it does at least make teachers accountable for what goes on in the classroom. Teachers have a responsibility to the children they teach and they are no longer able to hide if they continue to produce poor results.

For many however, the purpose of education should not be centered solely on targets and results. Some teachers would argue that it was as much about social development, good manners and discovering ones place within society. The new system of diplomas which the government plans to introduce will take education down a much more vocational route but ultimately schools will still be ranked and assessed by the results they achieve and the targets they meet. Just as in the business world, if the headteacher is ultimately responsible for the performance of their school then surely they should have control over who works in it?

One further step in this school to business transition could logically be performance related pay, one which would be fiercely contested by teachers. It could be argued that to be treated in such a ‘business-like’ way would in itself demand more ‘business-like’ wages!

Guy Jones