The Empty Staffroom: has teaching lost its magic?

Sunday 1 November, 9.45am until 10.30am, Lecture Theatre 2 Breakfast Banter

On the face of it, when you walk around schools at break-time, or glance into classrooms during lessons, they look just as they always did. But things have changed. Schools are not the places they were. In many schools, teachers no longer socialise or discuss education informally in the staffroom, meeting instead in formal meetings where the agenda is set. They communicate with colleagues by email, or have brief interchanges in the cupboard they call the departmental office. In class, their lessons have become more formulaic and their relationships with pupils have due regard for the ‘boundaries’ prescribed by school policies. Even the way teachers dress is more formal, in keeping with the business ethos many schools promote. What has driven these changes, and what effect do they have on education? Is the idea of teaching as an inspiring vocation a thing of the past?

Dr Gerry Czerniawski
senior lecturer, secondary education, Cass School of Education, University of East London; author, Successful Teaching 14-19: theory, practice and reflection

Richard Swan
writer and academic

Dr Mark Taylor
vice principal, East London Science School; London convenor, IoI Education Forum

Dr Shirley Lawes
researcher; consultant and university teacher, specialising in teacher education and modern foreign languages; Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes Académiques

Produced by
Dr Shirley Lawes researcher; consultant and university teacher, specialising in teacher education and modern foreign languages; Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes Académiques
Recommended readings
Waving the white flag for history risks a self-fulfilling prophecy

Recent debates on the teaching of history imply a subject under attack and on the defensive with claims that it is in danger of being merged into a kind of humanities

Mark Taylor, TES, 2 October 2009

Keep teachers’ personal lives private

Teachers should resist the General Teaching Council’s new code of conduct telling them how to behave outside of work.

David Perks, spiked, 9 September 2009

Teachers face MOT every five years to prove fitness to teach

Government introduces new licence to teach amid widespread changes to English school system

Polly Curtis, Guardian, 30 June 2009

Expel these managers from UK schools

Labour’s targets culture in schools means hefty salaries for managers and uninspiring education for kids.

David Perks, spiked, 3 June 2009

Why we do what we do

'Returning to the game last year, I was struck by how assessment for learning has become a viral philosophy'

Phil Beadle, Guardian, 21 April 2009

The Corruption of the Curriculum

Traditional subject areas have been hi-jacked to promote the government's social goals, instead of imparting a body of academic knowledge to their students according to this new report

Frank Furedi, Shirley Lawes, Michele Ledda, Chris McGovern, Simon Patterson, David Perks and Alex Standish, Civitas, June 2007

Overcoming the resistances to innovation in the classroom

The classroom and the school have become multi-disciplinary, dynamic and nurturing spaces for learning and education. Well, this may seem unproblematic, but on closer inspection this perception of education in UK classrooms becomes more troubled.

Nick Soucek, Futurelab, 1 February 2007

Festival Buzz

"It alerts me to new areas of debate, and gives thought-provoking new angles on topics I thought I already knew well. Altogether it's a wonderful intellectual tonic, which cheers up the dog days of November."
Ivan Hewett, music critic, Daily Telegraph