Lessons of Phoenix experience

6th February 1998 at 00:00
Your article on Phoenix High School which profiled the work of the headteacher William Atkinson was undermined by a serious flaw which asserted a simple untruth.

It is not the case that Mr Atkinson ever had to "face-down the NUT". It is also an exaggeration to imply that the National Union of Teachers was occupying a management vacuum prior to Mr Atkinson's arrival.

There have been no dismissals or disciplinary procedures regarding competency matters within the school. The procedures introduced by management have all been subject to consultation and negotiation and operate within guidelines successfully negotiated within the school, within national guidelines and supported, where necessary, by the local association.

There are many lessons to be learned from the Phoenix experience. One important lesson is that teachers, and their unions, are part of the solution to problems facing schools. It is often political prejudice or simple ignorance which believes it is anything different.

DENNIS CHARMAN Secretary Hammersmith Fulham Teachers' Association co 62 Cobbold Rd, London W12

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