I’ve carelessly allowed 16 years to pass whilst I have been busy teaching. Wow — that’s a great chunk of my allocated time. Which is why I want to stop and and reflect on what I’ve done with that time, and more importantly what it’s done with me.
I teach on the top floor of a Victorian building, with the remnants of a final Greek lesson chalked onto the classroom blackboard now covered with a display board. It’s comforting to know there’s a bit of tradition and history to my classroom. I guard it jealously.
It’s the curriculum, the technology and the terminology that have changed the most. I teach what was formerly known as ICT — but has now morphed into IT. With more than a smidgeon of ‘programming and coding’ attached. Acronym number 1.
I added a ‘creative digital media’ tag to my subject years ago because I thought it sounded flat, and dry. And rather boring. Which doesn’t suit my teaching style. Plus, I have the good fortune to work with an incredibly talented Art teacher and over the years we have delivered — through the talents and hard work of our pupils — a whole host of combined projects of which I am incredibly proud and can justify the title.
Anyway, it’s the acronyms that have driven me to put pen to paper today, so to speak. They have crept up upon me when I wasn’t looking. I really must pay more attention in class.
I teach IT. I am led by an SLT. Pupils take CATs to quantify their VR and Non VR abilities, whilst as staff we undergo PMR to analyse our personal progress and targets. We are encouraged to prioritise our CPD. We attend INSET days. There’s talk of the 90/10 solution. My qualification for this role is a PGCE.
Exams and qualifications for pupils too are chunked and identified by acronyms. Look left you’ve got EYFS. Look right it’s ISEB and then CE, before pupils move on to the heady heights of IB, GCSE, A Level and Pre U. Heading for a UK university — it’s UCAS. USA bound ? Then you’ll need your SATS and your ACTS.
I wonder within this framework of acronyms and abbreviations how easy it is to lose sight of what should be our primary focus. If I find it confusing, what on earth is it like to be a parent, trying to master the vocabulary of today’s educational system ?
An education should be more than the sum total of the exams that define it, and the acronyms that identify it.