The answers are within ourselves

4th July 2003 at 01:00
HOW reassuring to read Professor Reynolds' article (TES, June 20). "There is a much better chance of learning from someone in the next classroom than from someone 20 miles away." It is time that we recognised that high-quality continuing professional development goes on in most schools every day. Peer lesson observation by staff can lead to honest professional discussions which are non-judgmental.

Recognising colleagues' expertise as well as their "areas for development" reveals the wealth of in-house opportunities and gives a knowledge-based foundation on which to develop a programme of school improvement. How much better for schools to adopt a rigorous programme of self-evaluation to identify key areas for improvement (and the celebration of their successes) than for an outside agency to leave after a short visit and say, in the style of Ann Robinson, "you have serious weaknesses - goodbye"!

Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, says he believes that "what makes good primary education great is the fusion of excellence and enjoyment".

Who could really argue with that? However, if Mr Clarke does want us to build on our own strengths he must give us the time to identify them in each other and work with our colleagues in school without yet more initiatives.

Excellence I can see but enjoyment is not so evident when staff are exhausted and their professional expertise is unacknowledged. I do hope that the Government will give us the time and freedom to make the philosophy of excellence and enjoyment a reality. In the words of David Reynolds: "It is time to let schools' own inner variation be the engine of their own improvement." Let's wait and see.

Liz Ramsay Headteacher Arthur Dye primary school Cheltenham, Glouscestershire

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