21 Rhetorical Questions

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What rhetorical questions would you ask ‘about education’?

I have a few provocative questions I’d like to ask and do not require any answers, although I’d be pleased to read your thoughts in the comments section below.
Definition: Rhetorical – adjective: asked in order to produce an effect or to make a statement rather than to elicit information.
  1. Do others under-estimate how hard it is to teach in a challenging school?
  2. Is there anything negative about teaching in an inclusive school?
  3. Should we treat SEN students with zero tolerance?
  4. Can teachers ‘take risks’ in a school culture that seeks compliance – so that it can improve?
  5. How do we know if OfSTED are correct in their judgements and processes of schools?
  6. What do OfSTED inspectors ‘get out of school inspection’? Is it a satisfying process?
  7. Do school inspectors realise they are part of the retention problem?
  8. Why do schools celebrate OfSTED inspections?
  9. How many teachers leave the profession after an OfSTED inspection?
  10. How do we know the current OfSTED framework can be applied fairly to all schools / context?
  11. Why does OfSTED ignore school complaints?
  12. Why does OfSTED re-engineer their reports – to suit their judgements – after an inspection?
  13. Why do OfSTED inspectors still ask school leaders to produce documents for a school inspection?
  14. Do we under-value the work senior teachers do in our schools?
  15. Is the job of a senior leader working in a challenging school, on a ‘hiding to nothing’?
  16. Why is part-time a dirty word in education? Do schools support part-time requests for senior leaders?
  17. In a landscape facing significant funding cuts, can single-status academies survive on their own?
  18. Why is (Multi-Academy Trust) MAT allocation an opaque process?
  19. What criteria is used when the (Department for Education) DfE select their ‘preferred partners’?
  20. Is a MAT takeover, genuinely a ‘consultation’?
  21. Can a MAT’s version of ‘Good’ be better than everyone else’s version of ‘Good’?
These are questions I have asked myself over the past 6 weeks. I have much to say, but I will leave my views *mute for now.

5 thoughts on “21 Rhetorical Questions

  1. This is a great set of questions that still make sense to me as a teacher in the USA without any direct knowledgeof the UK context. I would add to the list a question I am constantly asking in my work as a substitute (supply) teacher and doctoral student, “how many classrooms full of captive students does it take to shut down the megaprojects currently destroying the futures we/they are allegedly being prepared for?” See Playing to LIVE, Not Living to Pay preliminary notes v1.0 @ https://codylestelle.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/playingtolivezine1/ … I would love to hear your thoughts on this Ross, or anyone else reading this. It is a major challenge that I don’t easily find resources on…how do we take the level and urgency of our present crises seriously into our daily teaching practice and social interactions with students, staff, admin, and parents?

  2. Why do we talk about what and how children should be learning stuff picked by politicians (who are untrusted – see Mori polls) instead of discussing why we do what we do as a profession?

    How will the trad v prog debate benefit anyone outside of those who write trad/prog books/blogs?

    Where is the value in forcing headteachers to take full responsibility for a flawed Ofsted system?

    Why are values based approaches to systems, ethos and mission so scary to (some) schools?

    What purpose do Free schools serve given they are not free and ideologically driven?

  3. 1. Yes, they do underestimate how difficult it is to teach in a challenging school.
    4. It is very difficult to take risks in a school that demands compliance, I was observed recently and was told that because the data did not show enough of my students were making sufficient progress even though we are using a system where the grading is not understood (new gcse) , then I can only be given a 2, even though the kids were teaching the lesson and in groups and all books marked up to date using a 2 week cycle, using the school mark policy etc etc
    5. We don’t know and when you go into a category, challenging the judgement is not clear.
    7. I don’t think they do and I am not sure the care.
    14. Yes.
    15. Yes.

  4. 20. What do you mean by a takeover? Are you referring to cases where a school judged inadequate is “taken over” by a MAT which is believed to be able to help the school come out of the category?

  5. Number 3.
    Zero Tolerance. Why? It is unattainable and leads to fruitless discussions and debates about the concept and its delivery/effectiveness instead of focusing on how and why we want to manage behaviours.
    When working in an inclusive environment there still remains a need for that community to have a set of rules to follow; review and agree. This process, in order to be effective, should involve all community members.
    Therefore, SEN students will be included in the process of tolerance and understanding that comes from creating and reviewing a set of rules that the inclusive community sets for itself.
    When asked students tend to be more open, flexible and understanding than many adults around them particularly when they are imposing irrational decisions based on zero tolerance.
    They know their peer group and know that that student who has punched a wall has done so because they are faced with circumstances too challenging to cope with. To see the adults around them then listen, show compassion, care and nurture that student to success has to the most effective response for everyone.

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