Gove antagonises and amuses over strikes

1st July 2011 at 01:00

Although I am in full agreement with some of the innovations Mr Gove has proposed for the future of education, I am both angered and saddened by his recent letter "reminding" headteachers that there are no junior class-size limits other than for key stage 1 and the foundation stage.

Therefore, I could have legally had a single class of as many as 125 children yesterday, formed from the classes of the four teachers in my school taking industrial action, particularly as "senior management and support staff may fall within the definition of a 'school teacher' for the infantteacher ratios".

Not only do I believe his "reminders" to be inflammatory, but I believe the changes he is "proposing" to teachers' pensions are not just financially damaging to individuals, but also potentially extremely damaging to the whole education system.

There are a few implications of the "proposed" changes which do not seem to have been given much thought in the desire to save money. One is the notion of having 66-year-olds trying to teach four or five-year-olds, or 11-year-olds or 16-year-old school leavers.

Does Mr Gove seriously think that people of this age will still have the necessary energy and enthusiasm for these particularly challenging age groups? We may be living longer, but people in their 60s generally have more health problems than the under-60s. There will be much more sick leave for this age group and probably many more medical retirements or teachers dying in service, which will be very costly in more ways than one.

I do not intend to "discriminate" against the over 60s - I am very close to this age group myself. But while there are plenty of jobs I can consider when in my 60s, I can't realistically claim that my age and experience can compensate for the increasing frailty of body and mind, or the fact that teaching is physically and mentally exhausting.

David Ball, Headteacher, Rowde CE VA Primary School, Wiltshire.

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