Find solutions rather than blaming the messenger

1st November 1996 at 00:00
It is often the fate of the whistle-blower to become the victim. Ask any nurse or doctor in the National Health Service where they stand in the popularity list after they have made known the most recent abuse in the health service. The same could be said of Nigel de Gruchy and the way he has been recently vilified in the press.

The description of him in your leader as "the hang 'em and flog 'em tendency" (TES, October 25) is both unfair and untrue; he is after all representing the problems and difficulties of over 150,000 teachers in the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (and many more in other unions, I suspect). It may be uncomfortable for the general public and some politicians who would rather not know exactly the state of some schools but the recent publicity has at least forced us all to face up to the real problems in education.

It would appear that your leader is written from the position of an armchair critic from where it is easy to dismiss the trauma of many teachers and pupils with the type of glib phrase or quick opinion that your leader uses. However, as a result of the high profile that NASUWT has given to disruption in schools, it is beginning to dawn on politicians and educationists alike that a policy of selective recruitment in our schools is bound to result in some "sink" schools; that those who teach and learn in them suffer from a high rate of abuse and trauma that no society should wish on any one; that the unsocial behaviour of the minority affects the majority of pupils who attend those schools that are deemed as failing. The Government's solution of closing them down is an ostrich solution: the pupils, as we have seen, can move on to destroy yet another school.

I can only hope that a new Labour government will recreate the special education establishments that have systematically been dismantled over the past decade and reverse the present selection policy. This has almost ruined a percentage of our schools and the lives of the children and teachers who work in them. Meanwhile let us continue to be open about the real difficulties that teachers experience in the classroom and fully to investigate an honest solution.

TONY KANE 113 Queens Road, London SW19

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