Bring back the good old days

12th November 2004 at 00:00
I have formerly run cricket teams in a comprehensive and believe that the decline of the game in state schools owed little to "trendy" anti-competitiveness, as asserted by Dr Andrew Cunningham (TES, October 22) and much more to financial constraints making it impossible to maintain pitches and replace expensive equipment.

It has apparently been revealed to the born-again chief inspector that "crackers" Sixties and Seventies teaching methods were entirely pernicious.

But in reality the impact of progressive teaching methods, particularly at secondary level, was patchy and limited, and along with the dross were some excellent ideas.

Many Mode 3 courses, for example, were thoughtfully designed, interesting and rigorous, and their destruction at the end of the 1980s was educational vandalism. Coursework was no substitute, particularly after the imposition of league tables and the Office for Standards in Education pushed teachers towards compromising their professionalism to get results: the case of Prince Harry is the tip of an enormous iceberg.

So I can sympathise with the desire of Pete Strauss and a minority of his General Teaching Council for England colleagues to campaign to end league tables (TES, October 8), but I think this is the wrong target (a) because to call for the suppression of information makes it look as if you have things to hide, and (b) because obsession with exam statistics is a symptom, not the disease itself. The disease is mistrust, and the cure is confidence. I thought the role of the GTCE was to help teachers believe and trust in themselves to that point where they can say to government with one voice, "Have faith: we know what we're doing."

Andrew Connell 11 Mill Hill Appleby, Cumbria

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