The Tyranny of Boxes

I worry that there may be no way back now, at least in secondary schools. It seems that, at every level, and in every circumstance, the only response is to create a box to tick. Talking to friends yesterday there seemed to be a sad similarity to the anecdotes.

The visit of a deputy head to a PRU (to discuss withdrawn students) opened with: “Here it says X was on a 4, so. I expect you to have got her to a 4a by now“. This would only have been about boxes without the intervention, “Lets stop and perhaps talk about the children first”.

The planned lesson observation of the second half of a double lesson, criticised because there was not a separate lesson plan for the second half of this double lesson with its own separate boxes for the focus etc etc. etc.

The experienced teacher in a new school faced with the given departmental lesson plan of instructions.
1 write the name Francis Bacon at the top, stick the picture of Francis Bacon underneath in the box provided.
2 draw a detail of the Francis Bacon picture (provided) in the second box on the page.
3 In the third box in the bottom right write down 3 facts about Francis Bacon.
4 in the box on page 2 draw a picture of your face screwed up like a Francis Bacon using the mirror (provided).
“Could I do it another way?” “No, this is how it has to be done.

The inspector who yesterday had done 12 x 20 minute observations with members of the SLT who had “got it right every time” so they knew the criteria (boxes).

The NAHT who responded to the demise of national levels with a call to replace it with a grid of their own.

What is really depressing though, is that it’s not really necessary, the new freedoms, from the curriculum, or Local Authority control, and even from a lighter touch Ofsted in the future, are not being embraced, but seem to have resulted only in a new, heavy, tyranny of boxes, internally imposed by unimaginative managers terrified of accountability.

Profile photo of Dan

About Dan

Senior Advisor, Art Inspector, Member of the Expert Advisory Group for Art, Consultant working with NSEAD, IOE, QCA, UCE, UOG. Currently lecturer at UCL working on a project in Kazakhstan to develop text books for a new art curriculum.
This entry was posted in Just Stuff, Key Stage 3, Networks and Teachers, Ofsted. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Tyranny of Boxes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *