Multi-cultural city

New Communities – no problem for Teachers in Derby? Not so sure!


On March 26th some of the Teachers in Derby were on strike as a protest against:

– excessive workload, and bureaucracy
– performance related pay
– unfair pension changes.

Even for those not in the teaching profession it is evident that there has been an increasing emphasis on measures, and league tables which is fine in industry where much of the activity can be standardized. In teaching, then it is easy to see that being judged on arbitrary targets where the individual outcome for the school pupil is the most important measure , could be inequitable. Additionally where one’s pay then is based on “performance” which is dependent on the pupil base then that could be potentially demotivating if it transpired that one was disadvantaged by virtue of the district one was teaching in.


I managed to get a brief interview with Sue Arguile, Derby branch secretary of the National Union of Teachers, and asked her whether there were any issues given that some of her members were teaching a high percentage of people from New Communities. I expected that the already established inequities would be even worse for those members who were having to teach a wide range of nationalities, possibly poorly educated, low skills in English, and unfamiliar with the requirements of discipline in the classroom. Surely this was an issue.

Her response was initially defensive – along the lines of “ we have no problem with new communities”, “it is not an issue for the teachers”. I found this slightly curious and re-iterated my question to try and draw out the obvious concern that teaching a range of foreign nationalities would have versus a room full of native English speakers particularly in the context of league tables, performance related pay. No this was not an issue – “ no one has come to me to tell me that there is a problem – it is not an issue with my members”.

I have to respect the fact that I don’t understand the teaching profession. If I was being subjected to arbitrary measures then I would be very attentive to the way that such a system penalised me when I did not deliver teaching outcomes due to an accident of demographic mix ( which will have changed rapidly).
The point being, is that the children of recent migrants into Derby would probably need a higher level of attention than those of indigenous parents. This will inevitably be counter to the demands of the Gove targets and so those pupils are in danger of losing out as teachers will be forced to compromise teaching thoroughness for the most challenging pupils from the migrant communities.

My intuition is that this is not good for the less able migrant children who need more support to fully achieve their latent potential.


Categories: Multi-cultural city

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