10th April 2015, 1:00am




Work-life balance? It exists a world away

"The world sees our strength. Why can't we?" (Editorial, 27 March) brought my daughter to mind. She was teaching in what could be perceived as an idyllic, rural primary - and yet she was on the point of leaving the profession.

She phoned me in tears saying she was going to leave for her health and sanity. I asked if it was the teaching or the admin. You can imagine the answer. I suggested working overseas and she has now finished two terms doing just that. Leaving aside salary and benefits (which vary enormously abroad), the most important thing is that she now has a work-life balance.

She has a very early start but leaves at 3.30pm and is a changed person - tanned, relaxed, participating in sport and camping and hiking at the weekends. Suffice it to say my daughter is very happy and plans to remain overseas for some time.

The concept of TES becoming global is excellent and I hope "A day in the life of." encourages others feeling ground down by the system to follow my daughter's example. Teachers are voting with their feet. The shame is that some excellent practitioners are being lost from the profession altogether.

Name and address supplied

Don't rub out creative writing

In its desire to boost Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) and core subjects, the government is building a compliant but unbalanced skills profile for the next generation ("If the government is serious about the study of our literary canon, why abolish creative writing A-level?", bit.lyCreativeALevel). A-level creative writing is just as exacting as science. We need creativity - especially in science and engineering - if invention and enterprise are to flourish. Genuine education should be about the whole person and, by extension, an enlightened and diverse society. We can't afford to lose the personal, educational, commercial and vocational benefits of creative writing.

Yvonne Williams

Ryde, Isle of Wight

For the sake of argument, listen to teachers

It was refreshing to hear the views of sixth-form student Tony Diver ("This house believes in debating", Professional, 3 April). Argument and discussion is at the centre of my teaching. However, I do feel that questioning around debating is imperative in order to elicit high-level responses and develop higher-order thinking skills. The teacher as facilitator is at the crux of this - the way that the teacher phrases questions is central, alongside the questions students ask of themselves and others. When done well, debating can indeed boost confidence and empower learners to achieve beyond their wildest dreams.

Mark Damon Chutter


When ministers knew `nowt'

What else should we consider reviving as well as the Inner London Education Authority? ("Let's unpack these visionary ideas", Editorial, 3 April.) How about education as a public service? Teaching as a respected vocation? Schools as centres of learning run by and for the community ? Ministers of education like George Tomlinson, who rejoiced in knowing "nowt about the curriculum"? Inspectors who inspect without fear, without favour and without performance data?

We might also revive chalk and blackboards, long window poles, ink-spattered registers, rows of battened-down desks and, above all, pupils who are able to exercise their kid-hood without excessive testing and close supervision.

Colin Richards

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

Let's be guided by the spirit of optimism

The causes of the spirit of '45 referred to by Sir Tim Brighouse lie in the war that preceded it (Comment, 27 March). This experience created a determination to build a new kind of society where fascism and dictatorship could never flourish again.

The US Marshall Plan helped Britain and other European countries to rebuild their shattered societies, and the Bretton Woods system guaranteed currency stability, enabling governments to plan their spending on education and health.

Watching British Path films or The World at War could inspire schoolchildren to learn about the kind of world their grandparents lived in and compare it to their own.

Shouvik Datta

Orpington, Kent

It's a question of character

In recent weeks, education secretary Nicky Morgan has taken the extraordinary step of removing a series of qualifications aimed at developing personal and character skills from the post-16 curriculum. These include qualifications in personal effectiveness promoting team-working and self-confidence.

The move is astonishing since it comes on the back of several pronouncements by Ms Morgan about the importance of building grit and resilience in young people. In December, she launched a pound;3.5 million grant scheme "to place character education on a par with academic learning", and yet she is scrapping tried-and-tested qualifications designed to meet this need.

Ms Morgan claims that such skills can be taught as part of traditional, academic courses - although we have yet to hear how. It is hard to imagine more contradictory policymaking.

Worrying, too, is her reluctance to heed the warnings of organisations such as the CBI, whose 2014 report Gateway to Growth found that young people lack a positive attitude, resilience and self-management when entering the workplace.

The education system cannot continue to be run on the personal whims and prejudices of ministers. Our economic growth - and our ability to turn out young people who can survive and prosper in a global environment - are perilously at stake.

Maggie Walker

Chief executive of awarding body Asdan

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