Decades of teachers' alienation

15th September 2006 at 01:00
So in Pauline Perry "Tories want to rein in Ofsted" (TES, September 1) we not only have another recanting Tory, but one who was at the heart of the educational establishment all through the bitter years of the eighties and early nineties.

In those days, I was one of many teachers driving to school with the radio firmly off. If I wanted to arrive for the day's work in the positive and upbeat frame of mind which every teacher needs to start the day's work, I could not afford to listen to the vilification of teachers by politicians and others which was retailed with such regularity and glee by the news media.

Personally, I believe we had an intelligent, committed and hard-working teaching force in those days, too. But we also could not afford adequate teaching materials, had no help in the classroom, and had virtually no opportunity for in-service training. If the likes of Ms Perry had personally had to scavenge regularly for craft materials, cope with emergencies while "teaching" the rest of the class of 30 to 40 children, and provide for the varied and sometimes extreme special educational needs presented by some children, perhaps they would have been supportive rather than critical and the alienation of the teaching profession could have been avoided.

But it is all rather like the problem of school meals. Enough of us predicted the outcome of privatising the service and were told we were talking nonsense. And now we have Jamie Oliver and everyone is bemoaning what happened. A little humility and some apologies are long overdue.

Ruth Fawcett. Furze Hill, Terrace Road South Binfield, Bracknell

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