Dear madam: letters to the editor 29/5/19

In this week's postbag of letters to the editor, Tes readers discuss school visits, the value of education and Sats

Tes Editorial

Tes letters to the editor: 29 May 2019

No money for school visits

There’s no longer any money for educational visits.

My teaching career used to be full of training and trips: Oxford for a union rep course, Brighton for being motivational, Mill Hill for first aid, Barnet for a behavioural approach to teaching, Moorgate for union case studies, murder at the Old Bailey. On top of those were day trips to Thorpe Park, Flamingo Land, the Christmas market in Lille, Chessington World of Adventures, as well as five-day weeks and long nights in France, Spain, Scarborough, York, Warwick, Stratford and London. I have comforted students who were crying for their televisions, mothers crying for their children and children not wanting to go home. There is always one parent who turns up hours late to pick up their child. One father was a day late.

Trips are not the free holiday that students think the teachers are getting. Disturbed nights and emergency departments are gruelling. Preparations are demanding: health and safety now requires 15 pages of details for Debate Mate or Maths Challenge at local schools.

So, imagine my disappointment recently when I requested, for myself, a day music course (unpaid day off) and this was refused. “But,” I stammered,” I am a first-aider, I come in early and turn the lights on, I give my heart and soul to education.”

“Going the extra mile does not come into the equation,” was the head’s reply.” Money is ring-fenced, budgets have been cut and numbers are down.”

Trips and visits are very important. Some of the students who came to the Old Bailey had not been on a bus or Tube train. Some students who came to Yorkshire had never been close to cows or sheep. Nights away from parents were life-changing. New friendships were developed out of school, across form groups. Limiting mobile phone usage encouraged new powers of observation.

As we approach the summer, tests, tables, exam successes, finance and data will ruin the enjoyment of education. It is very sad.

Anne Adams

Has school changed since the '70s?

Sorting out some old folders of saved cuttings, reports and so on from the 1970s, I was reminded how at the time school was regarded by pupils as 75 per cent a waste of time. The 25 per cent good value was social, and the thinking was that it should account for 40 per cent.

A public schoolboy highlighted that lack of general utility other than social by claiming: “It taught me to be a man!”

The general flow of interview comments stated that “in real terms, we forget and only begin to learn after school!”  Would all that stand up now 40 years later?

Mervyn Benford

High-stakes Sats damage education

We support the call by the NEU teaching union for a boycott of high-stakes summative testing in primary schools. These tests damage education. Test-readying supplants ordinary productive teaching and learning for weeks at a time, narrowing the curriculum and sapping motivation. The way the tests are designed tends to reward shallow thinking at the expense of grounded understanding.

For a proportion of pupils, undertaking high-stakes summative tests causes more anxiety than is acceptable. Some pupils become very distressed.

It is right that a publicly maintained education service be accountable. But high-stakes summative testing is the wrong mechanism to use. It provides so reductive and partial a picture of what a school does, and distorts the educational process so profoundly, that another basis must be devised on which schools can be held to account.

Dr Patrick Yarker, co-editor, FORUM (for promoting 3 to 19 comprehensive education)
Professor Jane Martin, University of Birmingham
Helen Trelford, University of East Anglia
Professor Anna Robinson-Pant, University of East Anglia
Professor Elena Nardi, University of East Anglia
Dr Esther Priyadharshini, senior lecturer, University of East Anglia
Dr Spyros Themelis, senior lecturer, University of East Anglia
Dr Irene Biza, senior lecturer, University of East Anglia
Gillian Holland, senior lecturer, University of East Anglia
Professor Colin Richards, University of Cumbria
Dr Jon Berry, University of Hertfordshire
Professor Matthew Clarke, York St John University
Cliff Jones, honorary senior fellow University of Liverpool and fellow of the International Professional Development Association
Laura Quick, University College London
Mandy Pierlejewskicourse leader, BA Primary Education 3-7, Carnegie School of Education, Leeds Beckett University
Professor Erica Burman, University of Manchester
Dr Linda Hammersley-Fletcher, Manchester Metropolitan University
Laura Black, University of Manchester
Dr Steve Courtney, Manchester Institute of Education
John White, emeritus professor of philosophy of education, UCL Institute of Education
Dr Pamela Woolner, Newcastle University
Professor Diane Reay, University of Cambridge
Dr Richard House
Professor Toby Watts, OBE, University of Derby
Dr Abby Innes, European Institute, London School of Economics
Dr Wayne Veck, reader in education, Winchester University
Dr Joan Walton, York St John University
John Coe, National Association of Primary Education
Dr Christopher D Coath, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol
Malcolm Bride
Erica Evans, senior lecturer, University of Brighton
Professor Christine Hall, University of Nottingham
Professor Dave Hill, emeritus professor of education, Anglia Ruskin University
Dr Helen Young, senior lecturer, London South Bank University
Dr Guy Roberts-Holmes, associate professor, UCL IoE
Professor Terry Wrigley, Northumbria University
Professor David Leat, Newcastle University
Wendy Hollway, emeritus professor of psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Open University
Dr Mary Richardson, associate professor of educational assessment, UCL Institute of Education
Seán DoyleUCL Institute of Education
Dr David Whitebread, Homerton College, Cambridge
Professor Michael Fielding, UCL Institute of Education
Professor Rosalyn George, Goldsmith's, University of London
Lesley Warr, Manchester Institute of Education
Dr Teresa Bolton, University of East Anglia
Professor Julian Williams, Manchester Institute of Education
Heather Elliott, senior lecturer in Early Years Education, York St John University
Ghada Khattab, Newcastle University
Professor Joy Carter, Winchester University
Professor Meg Maguire, King's College, London
Professor Gabrielle Ivinson, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Gee MacroryManchester Metropolitan University
Heather Piper
Dr Alpesh Maisuria, education studies, University of East London 
Simon Boxley, Winchester University
Dr Alexander Gardner-McTaggart, Manchester Institute of Education
Professor Vivienne Griffiths
Dr Nadia Edmond, University of Brighton
Marian CartyGoldsmith's College, University of London
Emeritus Professor Michael BasseyNottingham Trent University
John Wadsworth, senior lecturer, Goldsmith's, University of London
John Hodgson, University of the West of England
Dr Pam Jarvis, chartered psychologist and teacher, Leeds
Brian Thorne, emeritus professor, University of East Anglia
Anna Grant, lecturer in educational studies department, Goldsmiths, University of London
Susie Miles, senior lecturer, University of Manchester
Dr Shakuntala Banaji, London School of Economics
Dr Jo Shuttleworth, University of Manchester
Gary Motteram, Manchester Institute of Education
Wendy Scott, OBE, president of TACTYC
Professor Ruth Lupton, Manchester Institute of Education
Dr Gary Snapper, Oxford University
Christine Thomas, National Association of Teachers of English
Jonathan Morgan, director, National Association of Teachers of English
Professor Ivor Goodson, University of Brighton
Dr Gail Edwards, Newcastle University
Professor Henrietta Dombey, University of Brighton; past president, United Kingdom Literacy Association
Professor Andrew Lambirth, University of Greenwich
Helen Moylett, early years consultant and tutor at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood Education, Birmingham
Dr Pam Jarvis, Chartered Psychologist
Professor Tricia David, emeritus professor, Canterbury Christ Church University
Dr Agnieszka BatesUniversity of East Anglia
Elaine BennettKeeping Early Years Unique
Anni McTavish, Early Education Associates
Jo Tregenza, director of initial teacher education, University of Sussex
Dr Simon Gibbs, University of Newcastle
Dr Terry Hanley, University of Manchester
Dr Christina CooperNewcastle University
Professor Howard Stevenson, Nottingham University
Dr Robert Rosenthal, University of Sussex
Fran Paffard, senior lecturer, University of East London
Pete Moorhouse, sculptor, and honorary research fellow, University of Bristol
Nicola Burke, Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC), Birmingham City University
Claire Watts, University of Sussex
Gurmit Uppal, senior lecturer, University of East London
Dr John Gordon, University of East Anglia
Kim Cowie, Newcastle University
Robert Young, general secretary, National Association for Primary Education
Peter Cansell, National Association for Primary Education
Dr Julia Sutherland, senior lecturer, University of Sussex
Di Chilvers, advisory consultant in Early Childhood Education and Early Education Associate
Micky LeVoguer, senior lecturer, University of East London
Professor Karín Lesnik-ObersteinUniversity of Reading



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