Blame children, not teachers;Letter

26th March 1999 at 00:00
IT IS with interest that I read of Ted Wragg's survey of incompetent teachers (TES,March 5).

I qualified as a primary school teacher and taught successfully for nine years in a large school. I was deemed to be potential management material. Then, due to promotion in my husband's career we moved and I took a job as a part-time music teacher in a smaller, urban junior school.

Classes were brought to me on a conveyor-belt system while their teachers took "non-contact" time. Several of these had a minority of disruptive boys who were not interested in a middle-class curriculum for music and there was little in the way of enforcement of a behaviour policy.

Perhaps I was naive in believing I could conquer behaviour problems. When I did raise concerns with management, I was told that behaviour management was my problem and that I had to develop ways of containing it behind the closed door of the music room. A tall order for difficult children with whom I had 30 minutes a week to build sound relationships.

Eighteen months into the job came the Office for Standards in Education inspection. A few weeks prior to this I had been observed for an afternoon by the county inspector for music who had assured me that I was doing a good job under difficult circumstances, so I was quietly confident. Unfortunately the OFSTED inspector was not willing to take these difficult circumstances into consideration. She was judging against an ideal which frankly cannot exist in many schools.

The inspection report judged two out of six lessons to be unsatisfactory and the head considered it was time to put formal incapability procedures into operation.

Surely the issue we need to address more than "unsatisfactory" teachers is that of "unsatisfactory" children?

Tamsin Murphy

62 Beswick Gardens

Rugby, Warwickshire

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