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Short fuses;Opinion

The schools holidays come none too soon. For many teachers the annual accumulation of burdens has culminated in one too many - the imposition of target setting. This has led primary heads in the Borders to react in a resentful complaint to the inspectorate, born of what their chairman calls thorough demoralisation (page one). The strength or weakness of their case can be debated. But the message they must be carrying to their staff is one which should concern Government officials.

Primary schools await their detailed targets after the summer holiday. Secondary colleagues are already wrestling with the implications, which come on top of injunctions to take the 5-14 programme and national tests more seriously. The Higher Still programme looms ever larger. And the calls for yet another postponement are, as we said last week, wishful thinking. Another round of complaints comes from teachers of English, despite the Government's attempts to quell rebellion. Our letters column next week will be the forum.

Do short fuses and the dog days of summer go hand in hand? Will seven weeks off cure the distemper? Unfortunately, the answer has to be no. Teachers will hopefully be refreshed by mid-August. However, they will feel more welcoming to their pupils, especially the newcomers, than to old problems merely postponed.

Everyone is committed to raising standards, which is bound to be the governing theme next session as it was this. But let us set aside the anxieties and acrimony until the exam results come out in August - and with them, new sets of statistics to chew over.

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