I rarely reblog posts on my site, but in this case I wanted to make an exception for two (make that three) reasons:

1. This is @cazzbooth’s inaugural post I’d like to do my ‘umble best to help her build an audience.
2. This post speaks precisely to the style over substance nonsense that is regularly enacted in many many schools all over the UK. The sooner we can move to a system where teachers who get great results are allowed to teach as they see fit, the better.
3. Because it’s well written and it confirms my biases.

When I recently read @LearningSpy’s latest post “Do I lack the courage of my convictions?”  I was struck by this passage:

From then [when in 2008 an Ofsted inspector told me that I talked too much in a lesson] until 2011 I was convinced that what Ofsted mandated must be true. I mean, why else would they say it? I looked on as older colleagues’ spirits were crushed by the increasingly urgent demands that they stop doing what they were good at and start doing ‘what Ofsted want’. Take the case of Derek […] He took early retirement a broken man.

This hit a nerve because this is what’s happened to the man who taught me French and German ten years ago, and as I have watched him crumble into a ‘broken man’, career-wise, reading this and realising that it hasn’t just happened to him is both strangely reassuring and extremely concerning in equal measure.

Mr Howarth (not his real name) taught for over twenty years at a comprehensive in a deprived area of Manchester. He never tried to rise above his ranks; he never even aimed at HoD. He was a committed classroom practitioner, who took me, my brother before me, and countless other students successfully through a variety of assessment specifications, took on Spanish mid-way through his career, had an ‘excellent command of his languages’ (Ofsted’s words), and achieved some of the best results in the school during the last few years.  He achieved all this not through a particularly ‘traditional’ or ‘progressive’ approach – he just loved languages and taught in a very ‘human’ way. He responded to his pupils, talked a lot when he wanted to, played games when he felt it appropriate.  I remember his as warm and friendly, he was a piece of the furniture at the school. He was probably sensitive to criticism and that’s probably where his weakness lay.   I use the past tense to describe all this because he has just been suspended at the culmination of capability proceedings against him, and is now leaving teaching.

Read more on @Cazzbooth’s blog