Roger Busk, a retired junior school head teacher, who these days is chair of governors at a different school, was the speaker at the Probus Club of Basingstoke. His wide experience of teaching in different schools allowed him to cite examples of how things have changed in the educational system.
His career spanned seven prime ministers and fifteen ministers of education with each one having their own views of the educational system of their day. Schools were left to manage their own policies of what and how to teach children. Some were good and others not so good. Much depended on the leadership of each head teacher and whether they were able to inspire their staff.
Some children who had made good progress in a primary school failed to maintain this when they moved to a junior school. Roger is clear that this is due to poor leadership at the new school. His view is that parents should visit the potential new school to see for themselves how things are run and what the atmosphere is like in the classroom. If it fails to impress then parents should look elsewhere if possible.
The introduction of the national curriculum complemented by teacher training has had a significant positive effect on schooling. Inset training, brought in by Kenneth Baker with his Baker days, started to improve how things went on in the classroom and these ensured continued development.
Ofsted inspections are gradually raising the bar so what was considered a satisfactory inspection of a school previously now may require attention to certain aspects. This is not necessarily a case of falling standards but a requirement to keep advancing.
To conclude his talk Roger gave a mental arithmetic test to his audience. This was a standard examination of junior school pupils and to the great relief of the retired professional and business men they got most of the answers right.