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I have a dream

Do I detect that a smidgeon of common sense is at last penetrating the educational establishment?

Your front page article quotes research which reveals that English pupils lag "years behind" their continental counterparts in number work, because continental teachers rely on one textbook, whereas English teachers are constantly expected to "re-invent the wheel".

Ready-made courses are there on the shelf, devised by the BBC and other publishers, who have the time, money and expertise to make appealing audio-visual based courses, yet here a whole cottage industry operates on the premise that teachers are essentially lazy, distrustful creatures who need to be forced to justify their existence.

The Technical Vocational Education Initiative general national vocational qualifications mentality has resulted in the decimation of whole swathes of forest in order that schools and colleges present their own individual and - by definition - amateur submissions, with all the dissipation of teacher energies, time and intellectual resources that this implies.

Add to it the proliferation of examining boards in fierce competition to sell their own particular brand of certification, and confusion reigns supreme, its victims being our baffled employers, overburdened teachers and under-achieving pupils and students.

Sometimes I dream of a national examinations board which sets exams, lays down guidance and prescribes books.

It's a sweet dream, but it pales against the nightmare of our current reality.

DAVID ROUSE Modern languages co-ordinator Stoke-on-Trent Sixth-Form College 20 Parkside Drive May Bank Newcastle-under-Lyme Staffordshire

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