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To compete we need to be able to compare like with like

Alan Smithers, (Opinion, TES, April 5), is right to extend the debate on teaching methods. What he misses in his analysis of the origins of individualised work is the influence of the Plowden Report, published in 1966. This influenced a generation of teachers towards a child-centred approach and those of us who had survived the mind numbing tedium of 11-plus grooming in our own primary school days embraced it with enthusiasm. However, the approaches it espoused made such severe intellectual and physical demands on teachers that rigour was lost along the way.

What primary teachers need now is not more mud slung from whatever source but a clear view of what methods are most effective in what contexts. If we are to look across the Channel and to the Far East for (apparently) more effective teaching we need to know whether, for example, those teachers have the same pastoral responsibilities, are effective with mixed-age classes, have a very broad curriculum to teach, work longer hours with bigger classes or have the same obligations to report, record and consult as in this country.

In the same issue you request ideas for the new Primary Pre School pages of your paper. Why not include regular international contributions which will help us to evaluate and compare?

TONY TWEEN

Headteacher

Christ Church primary school

Royal Park

Clifton

Bristol

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