If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Lead Learner?

Via a letter in today's Times, I am still choking with disbelief that a school in London has abandoned the title of Head Teacher, and replaced it with Lead Learner. This is an extract from the website of the school:

Meet the Lead Learner

My name is Matt Chappel. I am called the Lead Learner instead of Head teacher because we want to show how important and exciting learning is for everyone at Thornhill, not just the children.

Very democratic, chummy and right-on, I'm sure. And he won't be so traditionalist as to have a profile photo - no, our Matt's Lead Learner page has the exciting news:

(Drawing of lead learner coming soon!)

I know that

"This site was planned, designed and constructed by pupils at Thornhill Primary School"

but why a drawing? What's wrong with a photograph? I hear that children are allowed to operate cameras these days.

I'm sure that Mr Chappel is a nice chap and doing a great job at Thornhill, but this kind of thing just depresses me. I did teacher training a long time back, and the buzz word then was 'facilitator'. You couldn't teach, as that would imply that you were somehow better or more knowledgeable than the 'kids'. You had to be someone who merely stood by and 'facilitated' their learning, as if the only thing stopping them cracking quantum theory was the lack of a suitable learning space and a qualified adult to make sure that the conversation went the right way.

Listen: teachers know more - a lot more - than their pupils [1]. That's why they are standing at the front, and not at the back of the class rolling a spliff, or whatever kids do these days. The head of all the teachers is the Head Teacher, and this person has, or should have, authority. Authority to keep the teachers working on the right lines, and authority to make the children behave well enough, and for long enough, to learn something while they are there.

A Lead Learner is just another cosy adult, who makes you feel inadequate because he is better than you at Learning.

I am so glad I got out of education when it was still relatively sane.

[1] Pupils, not 'students'. Pupils are in compulsory education; students are voluntary. Why are we so keen to suck up to children's ideas of self-importance? Trainee barristers don't mind being called 'pupils'.


  1. I don't see that a malleable dense metal such as lead should play any part in an academic learning institute?

  2. I was toying with a joke along those lines, or something to do with dog-walking, but I decided to stick to the point. Good spot, though.

  3. The root of "education" has something to do with "drawing forth". Bringing the talents, curiosity and abilities OUT of those being "educated".

    NOT stuffing in. Pity those in charge of the Dept of Instuffing have NO understanding of this ....

    Alan Douglas

  4. Yes, eductare, 'not bottles to be filled, but candles to be lit'.

    Funny how the eduction system under Labour has become three parts Gradgrind and one part Magic Roundabout.

  5. I have a son at the school and the lead learner is an ego maniac, who is more interested in his self image than bothering about any of the children other than the ones who are doing really well(because they are being tutored at home after school)or the ones whose parents might get him some extra publicity...

  6. "the lead learner is an ego maniac"

    Now why does that not surprise me in the slightest? It's the ones that are 'down with the kids' who are the most arrogant, self-centred tossers, in my experience. Thank you for your input.


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