An interview with Nicky Morgan

After a successful visit to OFSTED towers on Friday I was interested to see that TES were doing a live video interview with Nicky Morgan today. Obviously TES will be writing it up in full but I thought it might be interesting to give my impressions given the outcry over two alleged statements, in her name , put out in the last few days!

Richard Vaughan was the interviewer and lost no time in cutting to the chase re the Guardian story about setting. Nicky had no hesitation in saying categorically..”it’s not true”. She has prepared over the summer for her new role and is looking to implement reforms which are supportive towards teachers and will help to inculcate high standards; she is not about issuing edicts on how they do this. She is impressed by her department which she says is stuffed with dedicated staff and is looking forward to visiting schools in her new capacity. She has a clear vision for her work with educators and knows that really good teachers are needed.

Like Michael Cladingbowl,  Nicky Morgan wants to listen to the profession; she staunchly defended her predecessor Michael Gove,  saying he was listening and enjoyed fierce debate. She said she had sent an email to all teachers to that end (note to self: check email); she appreciates that workload and red tape impact on teacher morale but feels that changes have been made to ensure we have the best schools.

She stressed that she is committed to the government’s work and is passionate about curricular reforms/exams. She is also passionate about school links with business and mental health issues /CAMHS; the latter is dear to my heart because of the children who come into our PRU. She said she is interested due to family reasons and is aware of needs out there and the importance of early intervention. My ears pricked up when she said she particularly needs to think about these outside mainstream…PRUs and medical units…as she appreciates there are wider constraints. Previously she has led a big debate in the House Of Commons and wants to consult further.
With regards to links between business and education ,she cited the need for better careers advice which she described as ‘patchy’ and is interested in hearing from this sector. She cited her involvement with ‘Bridge to work’ which is  in partnership with Loughborough University and stressed the need to look at vocational as well as university provision.

Assessment was a big issue…lots of questions on this…..She shied away from saying that EBACC core subjects are to be enforced but says she is concerned about students who come to her and say they haven’t taken the right subjects. She stressed we need to think big and all options should be open. She is going to have a discussion with Sir Michael Wilshaw so watch this space…..!

Nicky is big on teamwork and was very enthusiastic about a maths lesson she had seen this morning which used it well. She feels it is important to build skills which embrace character, resilience and grit; she is prepared to listen to teachers and not second guess them!

A concerned parent asked about GCSEs and the changes which are happening mid course; Nicky has personal  experience of this with the introduction of the first GCSEs but will bear this in mind for the future.

Other topics addressed included PSHE. …Nicky wants a focus on reducing homophobic and transgender bullying. What should / shouldn’t be compulsory is up for discussion.
She feels teacher retention rates are good and has met a lot of dedicated professionals both new and long standing.
She had high praise for teaching assistants at primary level….she has young children in school….and said it’s the job of head teachers how they are deployed.
She supports a possible Royal College of Teaching and says it’s up to teaching professionals to sort this out not government.
With regards to the new SEN framework Nicky hopes this will deliver a better service to children and families but is prepared to tweak it if necessary.

A big question was about the role of OFSTED. My particular question wasn’t aired because it had been answered elsewhere ….Nicky feels that the relationship should be good, constructive ,collaborative and will be consulting closely with them in the future. This will include discussion re the academies enterprise trust ; there was a follow on question about ‘forced’ academisation but Nicky felt it was about giving those schools a fresh start. She also feels strongly that schools should be not for profit in the future as this model is proving successful.

This was supposed to be a mini blog but I have included all the questions I heard which were sent in by parents and professionals. There was one point where the video froze so I might have missed something! So what can be concluded from the interview?
Obviously Nicky is an experienced parliamentarian and was wise enough not to fall into any bear traps, but she came across as sincere and interested in her role. Like Michael Cladingbowl she is a stakeholder in the system and seems genuine about consulting with and listening to teachers. She is enthusiastic and seems to recognise the worth of our profession. Also, like Michael, she is not prepared to accept the mediocre..her watchwords were ‘ high standards’. It maybe in the future that she will be ‘outed’ as an expert dissembler but that is not my impression at this time.
Nicky Morgan…the jury is still out, but I, for one, will be disappointed if this happens! The early signs are encouraging , on the strength of this interview, and if you and the Michaels work together and with us then there is hope for the future of education in this country!

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