Perhaps more than any other walk of life, the field of education has been overtaken by jargon and a seemingly chronic inability to speak plainly.
Many professionals sound like a stuck record, repeating phrases such as ‘we must drive up standards’ at any opportunity, without ever explaining how.
And just as it appears politicians think they can create an economic boom merely by repeating over and over that we are enjoying prosperous times, sadly the impression is often given that some believe teaching can be improved just by saying it will get better.
And so you could be forgiven for a touch of cynicism about the action plan drawn up to improve education in Portsmouth.
Indeed, there is a lot of bluster and blether in its stated aims, aims that could be phrased in a more succinct way and that could bear more relationship to real life in real classrooms. And some of the points are those that you would hope were happening anyway – such as ‘ensuring parents meet their responsibilities to make their child(ren) attend school regularly’.
But underneath that there are some sensible suggestions. Having a structure that highlights schools where pupils make below-expected progress is one such plan. Working with the University of Portsmouth to implement a student volunteer scheme to support schools which need help is another.
Schools in general are on an upward curve in this city, and we hope that this plan only adds to this – although we also hope that every school has enough teachers, and enough resources, to be able to function effectively.
One point of note, though. After years of being told schools are best run by headteachers, transformed into academies away from the dead hand of the local education authority, it seems a touch ironic that the job of ensuring that education is up to the required standard still seems to be the job of the much-maligned LEA.
Having a central point that can co-ordinate and implement improvement strategies is a sensible proposition – and we hope to see fruits from this particular plan in the coming years.