Chase after goals that are achievable

26th January 1996 at 00:00
Ted Wragg is absolutely right when he says he doubts whether any parent in the country, if asked, would want their child to be taught in a class of 40 rather than in a class of 20 (TES, January 5). But it's a stupid question. It would be like asking Burnley supporters if we would like Alan Shearer to be our striker.

A more helpful and revealing question would be to ask parents if they would prefer their children to be taught in a class of 33 by a good teacher or a class of 25 by a poor teacher. Parents will always opt for the class of 33, knowing all too well what a good teacher can achieve even with a larger class.

If we're going to improve all schools for all our children we need to be honest with ourselves as a profession. Of course we want smaller classes, but unlike Blackburn Rovers we don't have an open cheque book, so we have to make pragmatic rather than politically friendly decisions.

Improving teacher performance must be our first priority and the Office for Standards in Education can play a hugely supportive role in this. We all know that a good teacher would perform even better teaching a class of 25 rather than a class of 33, but that's not the point. We can't afford class sizes of 25 across the country just as we can't afford to ignore the advice of the Office for Standards in Education about what our priorities should be. To do so would be to disadvantage our children and our parents and in so doing we would score the worst of own goals.



Two Mile Ash grant-maintained school

Two Mile Ash

Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

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