Children's needs are not forgotten

18th August 2000 at 01:00
I WONDER whether your correspondent Hamish Preston (TES, August 4) considered that there were several reasons why heads did not respond to the Bridgebuilder project in November 1998.

First, it would be far too soon to write an account of the implementation of the literacy and numeracy strategies when one had only been in place for two months and the other was not yet in schools.

Second, a class teacher carries an enormous workload. Being a class teacher and a head places an impossible burden on many of my colleagues.

Third, heads receive daily demands for paperwork from many external sources. Prioritising means that teaching children comes first, dealing with the school community comes second and anything else just has to wait.

Fourth, the professional associations work on behalf of their members to articulate educational goals. Since November 1998 the primary sector committee of the Nationl Association of Head Teachers has met on a regular basis with those responsible for the strategies. I have chaired some fruitful meetings with these people, and our working relationship has enabled open and honest dialogue about the impact of both the literacy and numeracy strategies upon schools and their pupils.

I hope that Mr Preston will take heart and be reassured that the profession is able to articulate its own educational goals - but not always through writing accounts or filling in questionnaires.

We owe it to our pupils to continue to talk to the Michael Barbers of this world to protect them from some of the "top down" initiatives which may harm their education - as well as welcoming and shaping initiatives which will benefit them and make a difference.

Sue Sayles

National vice-president

National Association of Head

Teachers

Whitewynn

Ellerton, York


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