Whither Integrity…

When we set out to establish a post-faith based values 12 years ago, we didn’t seek to lose contact with the best of Christianity or indeed other faiths and belief systems. We used the whole community as a ‘sorting hat’ out of which came a mix of concepts, ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ that needed further honing.

Responsibility for ourselves, Respect for others, Loyalty to our school and Integrity above all. The strap-line shortens this further:VALUES strip
The current headlines, for both historic reasons and current breaking news don’t bode well for our society, it would seem, highlighting that ‘thought leaders’ in England act in every but showing Integrity.

The above are just 4 from Thursday (28 June) news and they each tell a different story, core though to the message is the straightforward lack of integrity shown therein. The reader can work three of them out, though the 4th headline, on teacher numbers, might take a little more figuring.  Anyone seeking to recruit teachers in most areas of the country face a bleak prospect, because there simply are not enough to go around. In part, though no-one ever says it, there is a ‘good news’ spin on this. Across the world, it seems that the English curriculum, with a very good deal of help from the British Council, is one of our great world export winners, with over 400 English curriculum schools opening abroad every year.  English curriculum schools require at least some English qualified teachers, so we have a significant ‘Brain Drain’ abroad.  In addition, there are thousands of International Baccalaureate schools abroad (over 1500 in the US alone). By way of example, check out the Council; of International Schools https://www.cois.org which has over 1300 such institutions in its membership.

The ‘Bad News’ is that qualified teachers face a limited shelf-life in state schools, worn out after only 5 years of service, as this article from the Independent from February 2017 makes clear:

“Government recruitment targets have been missed in the majority of subjects, including physics (by 19 per cent) and mathematics (by 16 per cent). Design and Technology only reached 41 per cent of its recruitment target this year.

Meanwhile we’re shedding existing teachers from our schools at record rates: 10,000 departed the profession between 2010 and 2015, and the pace of that loss is speeding up as disillusionment grows. Another £3bn cut to budgets is anticipated in the coming years – likely to be confirmed in Philip Hammond’s Budget next month – meaning that spending will reduce by 8 per cent per secondary pupil within the next three years.

In short, there simply aren’t enough teachers to educate our young people and it’s a crisis that is entirely politically manufactured.”

Here is Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders on the matter: “The government spent too long in a state of denial about this situation and, having finally woken up to the problem, has simply not done enough to address it. Teacher workload is a major factor and has been driven largely by an endless series of government reforms which are still working their way through the system. This has to be a salutary lesson for the future in ensuring that reforms are managed in a better way. ”

I precis the rest of the ‘Independent article’: “In 2014, half of teachers said they were considering leaving the profession. At that point, …they were also being insulted each morning on the radio, in the press or in parliament by the then Education Secretary Michael Gove …spent his days inventing some very creative names for teachers: “the blob”, the “enemies of promise”, “soft bigots” with “low expectations”.


Teachers aren’t uniquely sensitive creatures; they are experts in their field and, by voting with their feet and leaving their vocation, they are sending a warning to the Government that something is seriously wrong. And it’s easy to discover what, because they have been talking about it openly for years, unreasonable workload, the apparent ignorance from the Government of what teachers are actually trying to achieve, the forced academisation programme, which gives businesses influence over young people; the truly chilling effect of year-on-year pay freezes (the clue’s in the name);…”

…and my words now, and an almost unbelievable lack of integrity by 2 of the elected ministers at the helm. Whenever they speak, be they the Secretary of State or his minister Nick Gibb, they will state black is white, or worse still ‘soft soap’ their audience with ‘possibilities and maybes’ and then rely on the DfE teleprinter to email out ‘computer says no’.  If 16 year olds fail to gain a level 4/C grade (higher tier pass) in their Maths and English, they are required to resit the subjects until they gain a higher tier pass in the same GCSE or they leave education at age 18. As soon as this was ‘required’ (by Michael Gove – 2013, you could have guessed of course), the challenge became obvious – ‘where on earth would all the extra teachers come from?’

Our current Secretary of State has once again been pressed on this matter this spring, ‘promised he would  look at it’ and … eventually, when quizzed by Parliament’s Education Select Committee on Wednesday, Dominic Grieve broke the news:


So that’s that then – having been presented with all the evidence by as many of the education-based pressure groups, colleges, employers and so forth, that there simply are not enough English and Maths teachers around, and that ‘any way’ this is the wrong exam to test Adult literacy and numeracy by, the Honourable Member of Parliament for Beaconsfield fobs everyone off with hopeful words and then announces in parliament this somewhat ambiguous way of stating, ‘no change’.

Apart from this ‘rant’, what might the long suffering reader take from this post?  Within schools throughout the country, we have educators of principle highlighting the need for education above all to embrace ‘integrity’. It’s a much used word, indeed some Universities such as Surrey are under the scrutiny for offering 1st’s a little too cheaply it seems (41%) – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-40654933. In my opinion, we can use Integrity where we see it as a ‘torch’ to shine on situations that clearly lack it is a virtue. And that will be a good thing for all.



About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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