GM myths

26th January 1996 at 00:00
In your article relating to The Pingle grant-maintained school (TES, January 12), I took exception to what I regard as a particular piece of misinformation expressed by the headteacher, Mike Mayers.

Talking about the school's rationale for going grant-maintained, he states: "We believed we could get better value for money and now nothing is lost on bureaucracy, it has meant great advantages for the kids. If we had not gone grant maintained, we would have had to sack four teachers."

Leaving aside the issue as to whether bureaucrats perform valuable functions, Mike Mayers gives credence to the myth that everyone employed in local education authority central services is a bureaucrat.

I am an LEA central services teacher and I am willing to compare my week's work with Mike Mayers and let your readers judge if they regard either of us as bureaucrats. In terms of hours spent in teaching and working with young people in a variety of contexts, you will find my timetable stands comparison with any teacher in a school.

A number of my colleagues, excellent teachers all, have been made redundant recently, with the resultant loss of educational opportunities for young people. So, while The Pingle may not have sacked four teachers, someone else in another part of the education sector did.

Mike Mayers may not be aware of them, but that doesn't mean they weren't doing valuable educational work. Indeed, some of them might have been working for and with his students.

Let us also remember that while LEAs continue to run services, develop resources, create initiatives, they benefit all schools. However, not all schools pay their fair dues to this development work, that is, grant-maintained schools like The Pingle.

While I admire the principles advocated by Mike Mayers for his own school, I am puzzled how this vision of a wider responsibility can be harnessed to the individualistic model of grant-maintained schools. This is a vision of "splendid isolation", with opportunities limited to what individual schools can generate.

I am not convinced he could not put into practice his admirable policy within the LEA. True, he wouldn't get as much money, but he would get a fair share and wouldn't be taking funding from other educational initiatives or schools.

It is time The TES investigated this LEA equals bureaucratic waste line of thinking and time journalists challenged the cosy "painless" common sense assertions regularly made by insular grant-maintained headteachers.

David Cross

32 Canterbury Terrace


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