The rise of the scripted teacher: liberation or disaster?
What are we to make of teaching which delivers lessons from scripts? Evidence has long suggested that teachers reading from approved scripts could be effective when teaching certain topics, but until recently take up of the option has been minimal. However, that is starting to change. With the rise of multi-academy trusts, scripted lessons are on the rise. Perhaps surprisingly, there are plenty of teachers willing to embrace centrally-planned scripts to deliver lessons, although in a growing number of schools, the teachers don’t have a choice: they must stick strictly to a script. So can scripts raise standards and liberate teachers from lesson planning drudgery, or do they restrict the autonomy and creativity of teachers, heralding the death knell of the profession as we know it? This Education Forum debate aims to find out.
John Blake is a former history teacher and the head of education and social reform at the Policy Exchange think tank. He sees scripted teaching as a key weapon to improve the delivery of the National Curriculum. In his recent report, Completing the Revolution, he argues that scripts will be good for pupils’ education and ease teachers’ workload. He believes they can be precisely calibrated to ensure knowledge is imparted in a way that is as efficient as possible and completely unambiguous. Supporters suggest that this would replace the unregulated mishmash faced by too many children and contribute to more coherent rigorous curriculum programmes.
Physics teacher Gareth Sturdy could not disagree more. He has taught in schools that pursue a scripted teaching approach and thinks it utterly de-professionalises teachers. He claims it reduces them to mere technicians or functionaries, and removes what he considers the most essential element of education: the two-way exchange with a living human intellect. For Gareth, scripted lessons are a sad indictment of the dismal state of our current education system.
So who is right and who is wrong? Come along to the Education Forum to hear John and Gareth argue it out.
Listen to the opening remarks