The TES produced this article today:
I wholeheartedly agree with this article -although the terminology of “rewiring teacher attitudes” did have me imagining a bunch of teachers strapped to chairs and given ECT until they started waving rainbow flags! Ahem! That really wouldn’t be good! Although am pondering what the Daily Fail spin on that would be 😉
This week I have also been somewhat cross to read the attitudes of certain teachers in this teachers forum thread (and to be called a bully for saying homophobic language shouldn’t be tolerated- eh!?) and shocked and saddened that a teacher lost out on work because of answering a students question about sexuality (page 43 of thread).
I may have really quite loathed the General Teaching Council (for many reasons we don’t need to go into here) but one thing I quite liked was their “Code of conduct for teachers” which included the rather good fourth principle :
“Demonstrate respect for diversity and promote equality.
- act appropriately towards all children and young people, parents, carers and colleagues, whatever their socio-economic background, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, race, religion or belief
- take responsibility for understanding and complying with school policies relating to equality of opportunity, inclusion, access and bullying
- address unlawful discrimination, bullying, and stereotyping no matter who is the victim or the perpetrator
- help create a fair and inclusive school environment by taking steps to improve the well-being, develoment and progress of those with special needs, or whose circumstances place them at risk of exclusion or under-achievement
- help children and young people to understand different views, perspectives, and experiences and develop positive relationships both within school and in the local community.”
Now that is actually something I am sad that will be lost in the quango cull. I won’t miss the GTC but thought a code of conduct document including a requirement for “demonstrating respect and promoting equality” was a rather good thing (although the bit about teachers private lives had me fuming somewhat).
But yannoo what- A pretty much unenforceable code of conduct by an unlected quango that is now redundant isn’t going to make it reality in schools. What we actually need is a legal requirement of certain equality principles to be upheld by teachers and if you “can’t, won’t, don’t” then you shouldn’t be in the profession. If you are a teacher in a school in the UK you absolutely should not be espousing any discriminatory attitudes. It’s not about you and your opinions and “your right to free speech”, its about your essential role as a role model for young people and the need for all young people in schools not to be exposed to discriminatory attitudes towards them from anyone least of all their teachers. 😦
I know from experience of tackling homophobia in my school it wasn’t until the Head spoke about how unacceptable it was and got us all to agree to challenge it by standing up at a teacher training (only one person out of 100 staff stayed seated) then teachers attitudes were “rewired” (and by that I really just mean the extremely homophobic teachers knew to be very careful about how they addressed the issue with students). This “rewiring” isn’t actually about everyone believing the same thing- you can believe what you want about “the big “gay” debate” that’s your right, but as a teacher you need to know that have a responsibility to your students that you need to ensure you promote respect and tolerance of everybody regardless of differences.
So come on Dave C. et al. write it the GTC’s 4th principle into some educational manifesto law type thingummy so that teachers know that it is a legal requirement. Wouldn’t that be a lovely way for the Conservatives to atone for the vile damage that the now repealed section 28 has done in our schools.
I think unfortunately that will be the only way to “rewire teachers attitudes”.