'Lemons' left a bitter taste in the mouth

7th October 2011 at 01:00

The Sutton Trust talks of improving the bottom 10 per cent of teachers to bring them up to the average ("Lemon aid", 16 September). This, of course, would no longer be the average. A new average would have been created.

The normal distribution - or bell curve - cannot be eradicated from reality. Chopping off the bottom end of the curve pushes it to the right on the X-axis, thus creating a new average, with at least 10 per cent below it. The pressure to remove or improve those teachers operating below average would continue.

The drive for teachers to be outstanding is flawed because the same bell curve always operates. Even if you have teachers who are fantastic, you will still have average and below-average teachers. Organisations like the Sutton Trust don't seem to realise this.

Talking about people under headings like "Dance of the Lemons" and introducing phrases from America like "Turkey Trot" is unacceptable. There is no need to use derogatory language. Even talking in terms of getting rid of those not up to the job is using unpleasant language. It would be better to talk in terms of helping these teachers you refer to or, at worst, encouraging them into alternative employment.

This continuing demand for excellence is, for a full-time teacher, unsustainable. The system does not want to acknowledge this, but the demand is there and it results in teachers becoming ill, going part-time and leaving the profession.

A final note. Articles like yours seldom mention the responsibility of pupils for their own learning. It's as if they just have to turn up, the rest being down to the teacher.

Andrew Bateson, Beverley, East Yorkshire.

TES forums


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today