Challenge is to stop truanting

David Nichol's criticisms of my comments "Truants are too bored" (TESS, December 16) are, on reflection, accurate, and I apologise to him and to other teachers who may have felt I was criticising them solely for the choice some pupils make to truant.

I was actually trying to say what David himself argues: that truancy is a choice the pupil makes, a choice sometimes connected to his or her lack of motivation. If that lack of motivation is not challenged by what the pupil experiences in school, then the pupil may well choose to truant. But Mr Nichol is quite right to say that is the choice of the pupil and not something to be blamed on teachers.

Having said that, his assertion that "teachers work incredibly hard just to teach the syllabus as it stands" suggests that, somehow, the teacher stands apart from the pupil's emotional state and simply imparts knowledge.

The vast majority of teachers do work incredibly hard, but quality learning and teaching is built, not simply on imparting knowledge, but on the relationship teachers create with pupils. The statement that "we are all behaviour tutors", which Mr Nichol complains about, is in fact accurate.

Teachers do much more than teach their subject, and we should never underestimate the crucial role which they play in the pastoral care of their pupils.

Councillor Rev Ewan Aitken

Spokesperson for education

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

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