Friday, 22 January 2016

New Statesman letter on education

Not all of the government initiatives mentioned in your Leader were responsible for the improvements made in London schools, and whilst you are right to say that "educational inequality in England remains a disgrace", too much blame for this is always attributed to the teachers (The education divide,15 January,2015). The London Challenge succeeded because teachers from different schools worked together, and shared ideas. Politicians, very few of them with any experience of education in state schools, continue to have far too much influence on educational attainment in the state sector. Low pay and morale are fundamental reasons for staffing shortages, whilst 60 hour weeks and constant criticism and "advice" from the likes of ex-corporate lawyer, Nicky Morgan, and the duplicitous Nick Clegg, are driving thousands out of the profession every year.
   Over 40 years if teaching in comprehensive schools showed me how divisive is a system whereby some teachers are paid more than others for teaching the same pupils, whilst morale is always low when the headteacher is paid four or five times that of the average classroom teacher, yet never faces the constant pressure of actual teaching. Teach First is seen as the way forward, but how many of these "talented graduates" will still be in the profession in four years time? 
  The leader alluded to the Finnish system, with "the best school results of any country in Europe", which relies on teacher training colleges to prepare teachers, suggesting our PGCE courses should be retained. Giving student teachers time to assess and evaluate their own performance in the classroom, and discuss lessons with each other, is essential, and it prevents the likelihood of burn-out later.

   You say that "no option should be considered too radical" if it could help "improve social mobility". How about restricting universities to taking only 7% of their intake from private schools, in line with national figures?

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