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New Educational World – Stages of Grief

I think I’m going through the stages of grief…


The Background

I attended a meeting a couple of weeks ago in my role as a governor. The meeting brought together head teachers and governors from a local association of schools. Its focus was to consider the changing nature of leadership in schools. The presenter was an associate from the National College and did a very good job of presenting the changing situation and answering some pretty detailed technical questions. He certainly seemed to know his stuff. The meeting was a good one, well attended and even the lunch was tasty. So if it was so good, why did I come away from this meeting confused and, well, a little downcast?

Denial : I think it’s because I came through an education system that had at its core some clear values of universal access, cultural inheritance and the benefit of education for its own sake. Despite leaving school at 16, I’ve done well from it – and not surprising therefore that I feel some attachment to it. The meeting really crystallised for me the fact that we are now entering a very different educational world. An educational world of chains of academies, limited companies, free schools, and umpteen different models of governance. A world of state-sponsored and market-driven education provision. This was my point of denial: I didn’t want this to happen.

Anger: The changing reality was summed up in a slide that illustrated the new ‘educational landscape’. It was accompanied by the presenter’s comment that, “we no longer have an educational system.” That kind of shook me. What if we replaced the word ‘education’ with ‘health’? Would we be embracing this change quite so readily?  Then I thought, “Hang on, isn’t this what’s being proposed by the coalition with GPs holding the funds?” This was now my point of anger. The health and education acts have been the foundations of post-war Britain and it looks very much as if they are both being subtly removed.

Bargaining: According to the Five Stages model, I should have now been bargaining, looking for a way to return to the old model. Not sure I went through this though. Think I went straight to:

Depression: As I left the meeting I was, if not depressed, certainly sombre…

Acceptance: Initially as I was writing this I thought, “hmm, not sure if I’ve reached acceptance yet.” On reflection though, I think I may have. The fact that I have identified my thoughts and feelings as an example of the stages of grief do perhaps indicate that I recognise the inevitability of these changes. It was also a comment from the presenter that in four years’ time, “there will be no normality to return to.”

In some models of the stages of grief ‘Hope’ and ‘Transition’ are the final stages. Not there yet…