The best Christmas gift ever ...

22nd December 2000 at 00:00
Chris Woodhead's exit was seen as an early present by many teachers. Maureen McTaggart scans what else is on their wish-list.

TOP of my Christmas list would be a bonfire of red tape. We are an independent school so we don't have a great deal of it but my colleagues in state schools have a huge amount which is interfering with their ability to teach properly. You don't make the thing work better by inspecting it more frequently. For the New Year I resolve to work no more than 12 hours a day and to have at least Sunday off.

Mike Latter, maths and physics teacher, Hurworth House school, Darlington, Co Durham CHRISTMAS arrived early when chief inspector Chris Woodhead resigned - who could wish for more? I hope Education Secretary David Blunkett keeps his promise (to resign) when his unrealistic targets are not met.

I hope, too, that I remember to go home - in the rush hour, not after it - and that my wife and son stop asking "who are you?" when I eventually do arrive. My resolution is to get a bigger waste-paper bin, and make very good use of it.

John Harrison, headteacher, Oaktree school, Enfield MY Christmas wish is for politicians and educationists to listen to each other and respect each other's views. I would like to help children explain what they really, really want from adults (and it's not the latest expensive toy, game or trainers), and to get more parents to realise the surprising number of simple things they can do to encourage their children.

Meg Timlin, senior educational psychologist, KetteringCorby inclusion and pupil support, Northamptonshire I WOULD like to see smaller class sizes for all primary schools so that I can concentrate on teaching rather than crowd control. I would like some time to do the fun and interesting things we can do in class but are prevented from doing by curriculum pressures.

I would like to see education trying to prepare children for the future by teaching them skills such as co-operation, problem- solving, collaboration and communication.

I resolve not to enter any more teaching competitions because the 10 months it takes for the competition process to unfold is just too much for me.

David Baugh, award-winning classroom teacher (for creative use of ICT), Ysgol Frongoch primary, Denbigh AS a deputy head of a selective school, I wish the Government would consider the distinct role of deputies when drawing up legislation on pay and conditions. I wish talented graduates would appreciate that teaching can be hugely worthwhile and that postgraduate courses didn't deter them with unnecessary testing and bureaucratic box-ticking. My New Year's resolution is to follow the advice I distribute so readily - to have start times not deadlines; never allow paper to obliterate my desk totally and whatever happens, to keep calm.

Kathy Nichols, deputy head, Nonsuch high school for girls, Cheam, Sutton I WOULD like to see every school in the country given a wind generator and a solar panel so the children could get used to the idea of alternative energy from a very young age.

I wish the children would be more considerate to each other during work time and we could have a separate school library and hall. I would like every child to be given a watch for Christmas and learn to tell the time before they come back to school. My resolution is to make myself scarce when a piece of furniture neds to be repositioned - I don't want to move anymore for at least a year.

Pauline Hannigan (award-winning science teacher), class teacher, Nancledra school, Penzance, Cornwall I WOULD like to see the status of the teaching profession raised. The vast majority of teachers are excellent at their job and put in maximum effort every day because they realise they are responsible for their pupils' futures. I always try to make each lesson fun and as accessible as possible for the children so my resolution is: "Continue doing this so that they will want to work really hard and enjoy learning."

Katie Harris (award-winning science teacher), class teacherscience co-ordinator, Edenbridge primary school, Edenbridge, Kent I WOULD like education to be seen as a journey, not a destination where pupils, professionals and parents travel together at different speeds but always in the same direction.

There should be no back-seat drivers and as few traffic jams as possible. I resolve to try not to blow a head gasket when met with diversions and, above all, to never run out of gas.

Rebecca Brustad (award-winning science teacher), curriculum leader for science, Marshfield primary, Castleton, Cardiff I WOULD like to see the policy on exclusion reviewed, perhaps taking responsibility from governors.

The way funding is distributed at primary-school level needs to be looked at to make it more fair. My other wish is for a sports hall, Edmonton county school is the second largest in the borough with 1,600 pupils yet it doesn't have one.

Gordon Thongs-George, chair of governors at Edmonton county school and co-opted governor at Raglan infants, Enfield I GOT an Office for Standards in Education inspection for Christmas but what I really want is a Newton's cradle. Instead of balls, my executive toy would have the heads of Tony Blair, David Blunkett, Estelle Morris and so on knocking together. At the end I would like a brick ball to send crashing into the whole lot - to let them know what it's like to be constantly beating your own head against a brick wall.

My resolution is to destroy bumf. Unless it isn't urgent it is going straight through the paper shredder to make hamster bedding that I will sell to raise money for the school.

Irene Byard, headteacher, Enfield county school, Enfield I WOULD really like my own laptop and one of those interactive white boards that link with the computer.

My classroom smells of vinegar after we have made exploding volcanoes so I would like aromatherapy oils pumped through the air conditioning unit like they have in offices in Japan. I am tempted to take up yoga next year to help me develop inner calm.

Christina O'Dell, geography teacher at Wallington high for girls, Wallington, Surrey MY wish would be for sufficient funding to reward the enormous efforts of teachers and support staff, who work unstintingly for the benefit of the pupils.

Each one does the work of two people, and needs to have an assistant to share the load.

Sharon Margolis, headteacher, Wolfson Hillel primary school, Southgate, north London I WOULD like to see schools become happier and more relaxed places; more tolerant of differences, and, to become more focused on the strengths and creativity of children and staff rather than their weaknesses.

Terry Arnold, senior educational psychologist, NorthamptonshireB

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