Fresh Start derides dedication;Letter

16th April 1999 at 01:00
CONGRATULATIONS to Bernard Barker (TES, April 2) for opening the debate on the plight of older, experienced teachers in so-called "failing" schools.

My partner works at a Brighton school due to be closed and re-opened under "Fresh Start" this year. I hear daily of demoralisation and the struggle to get any assurance that there is a chance of re-employment. This uncertainty cannot fail to affect pupils who have no idea who their teachers will be next year.

The fatal stabbing of a pupil on the first day of the Easter holidays has highlighted for me what the local education authority, the Office for Standards in Education et al appear to ignore - how much that school and its committed teachers serve the community.

The school was re-opened for the first three days of the holiday, so that teachers could comfort and counsel bereaved friends. A number of teachers will attend the child's funeral and his family has asked a deputy head to speak at it.

But from September these pupils in their "Fresh-start" school are set to lose all that continuity and care from long-serving, dedicated teachers who know and understand their community. And those teachers who will have lost their jobs are the very ones who will keep the school running and support the pupils through an impossibly difficult final term. Are there really people out there better experienced to teach than these?

The TES is reporting increasingly on research we have all known for years - that it is not schools which fail pupils, but social exclusion. Headlines about the "learning gulf" dividing the "rich and poor" are not news for anyone, except OFSTED.

As Martin Johnson says in the same edition "most of the secondaries failed by the OFSTED are underclass schools"... "the truth is that the core of staff who stick it out for years are heroes".

Caron Methol 30 Harrington Road Brighton, East Sussex

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