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Every teacher needs to know respect is vital

I have to compliment Dylan Wiliam on his feature “Nine things every teachers should know” (2 September). The first point is the crucial one: about respecting all pupils as people, complex but with equal identity and rights.

A recent personal example showed that this is sadly not the norm on our multicultural island. I was an invited adviser at a higher education institution PGCE meeting, and the chair, in a general conversation about diversity, raised the point that his preservice trainees, predominantly white, reported that they were “uncomfortable” working in a classroom with black pupils.

Wiliam’s point about teachers treating pupils with respect should be extended to include those who train teachers, whether in PGCE or School Direct models.

Professor Bill Boyle

Director TETEC UK, Tarporley, Cheshire

Are heads being scapegoated?

I fear there was much missing in “How headteachers can cope with a sudden redundancy” (Insight, 2 September). Of course, we can all improve, but are we confident that all inspections are fair? That Sats, exam-grade boundaries and Progress 8’s buckets make sense?

What if the chair of governors or regional commissioner has an axe to grind? Is it possible some heads are scapegoats? Does the dirty deed really need to be so swift, involving “leave now, do not pass go and do not collect £200” tactics. What is this doing for recruitment of heads? How many deputies are frightened to risk it?

If it’s all so ordinary and there is life after headship, why the compromise agreements? What is being hidden so comprehensively?

Becky Durston

Barnston, Essex

The article about headteachers seems to conflate the two issues of redundancy and capability. Legally, redundancy is a form of dismissal. Section 139 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 sets out that dismissal will be a redundancy if: the employer’s business, or part of the business, has ceased to operate; or it has moved to a different place; or the need for work of a particular type has ceased or diminished.

Redundancy is not a mechanism for dismissing a headteacher, or indeed anyone else, on the basis of their poor performance. If someone is not genuinely redundant, then they may have been unfairly dismissed and may be able to claim compensation through an employment tribunal.

Claire Keetch

Head of advice, National Governors’ Association

Grit is great, but it’s one of many tools

“Grit may be good – but it isn’t enough for success” (Insight, 2 September) provides a starting point to look at the context in which we are teaching children life skills, putting forth arguments against using the term “grit”.

I like the term “grit”, but I do understand the implications of not using it or teaching it in the “correct” way (within the scope of a moral and character-building approach).

As a Paralympic medallist, in training I had to show grit on a daily basis. I had to show up every day, even when I felt too tired to do so, or too down over bad results. Holding doggedly on to my dream, I learned that “grit” within the larger context of talent, support, focus and deliberate practice could result in successful outcomes.

So I tend to believe that there is a place for teaching “gritty” skills, as long as it isn’t seen as the be-all and end-all of achieving success. In the work I do as a speaker in schools, I want to show children that they have potential, and they can reach it – grit is simply one of many tools.

Elizabeth Wright

Paralympic medallist and co-founder of the Resilience Wellbeing Success programme, Leeds

‘Buzzword bingo’ is not fair game

I appreciate that Tom Finn-Kelcey’s piece “Seven reasons to be glad it’s September once more” (Comment, 2 September) was somewhat tongue in cheek. But number six – “senior leadership buzzword bingo” – really jarred.

As a head who spends much of the summer planning what I hope will be stimulating and inspiring Inset days, I would be both mortified and furious if I found out that my staff felt it appropriate to play such a game.

Along with our age-old tendency towards martyrdom, I think cynicism is the biggest self-inflicted blight on our profession and should not be promoted.

Stephanie Gibson

Headteacher, Bletchingley Village Primary School, Surrey

Facbeook users on Claire Lotriet’s article “What can we do if parents attack teachers online?”

“Someone else spotted abuse towards me and a colleague. It’s likely this is something all teachers suffer, most of them unknowingly.”


“They are the teacher’s worst nightmare!”


“Terrible, steer clear. If they make inaccurate comments it should have consequences.”


And on academy boss Dame Sally Coates saying schools should be forced to admit a fair share of poorer pupils

“Surely school places should be allocated according to where the pupils live, and other existing factors, not income?”


“Middle-class parents go to considerable lengths to get their child into the school of their choice.”


“Just one problem…These schools don’t have the faintest idea how best to provide for children from deprived backgrounds.”


From the TES Community forums

Head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw says a new wave of grammars would set the country backwards


Is it just me or are his comments contradictory? He implies a social/academic mix is good because there are role models within the system who other children can learn from. He then goes on to say mixed-ability teaching is bad and prefers setting, which is merely an in-house method of selection.


In my experience (as a former comprehensive student, parent and teacher) the comprehensive system can work, and can provide incredible opportunities for children.


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