Sunday, 14 October 2012

Selling School

“So why should my child come here if I'm only going to have to move them to another school after their G.C.S.E.s?” I struggle to answer this question and can truly appreciate how a salesman must feel when faced with an equally awkward customer.

In my first teaching job “open days” were held in the evening after the school day and merely entailed tidying up displays, answering the odd question and eating vast amounts of biscuits to pass the time. I'm not a contracted member of staff here and merely on maternity cover but still part of the school's open day. After numerous staff meetings weeks ahead going over plans for the day, a half-day of preparation and last minute panicked arrangements, I can truly appreciate the amount of work that goes into selling the school – special workshops are being held around school showcasing each subject, there's a concert in the school hall, a stall selling Halloween-themed products made by artistic pupils, tours of the school and even students dressed in costume wandering around as historical figures.

Those visiting the school this weekend will be the September 2013 cohort so will be affected by government plans to raise the legal age of school leavers to 18. After this summer's G.C.S.E results fiasco, schools that were once perceived as successful, really do need to sell themselves to secure “the right” intake. The school I'm working in does not have a sixth form so like so many other schools across the UK may struggle to encourage parents who are sceptical of colleges (“University is for that kind of experience.”) and prefer continuity, it's the right choice for their children.

Every time they make a change or introduce a new policy, the government and examining bodies fail to consider the knock-on affects to teachers, schools and pupils. Education ministers would have us believe there's been no major overhaul to education since O-levels were scrapped but anyone on the front line will tell you otherwise.

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