Letters Extra: Blue Skies paper is out of touch

19th December 2003 at 00:00

Yesterday I was talking to an excellent infant head teacher. She told me that she had been considering early retirement and that the item Schools without teachers ( TES 5-12-03 ) had confirmed her decision. She's going - and how many with her?

Are the DfES officials who wrote or distributed that "blue skies" paper stupid or totally out of touch? Out-of touch with classroom realities they may be but stupid they are not.

There's only one possible explanation for the paper and the way it found its way into the public domain. It's meant to soften up opposition to the Department's real plans for workload reform. It presents a worst-case scenario which Ministers and senior civil servants can distance themselves from before putting forward their own, "milder", version which would otherwise have been met with a furore of opposition.

I tell my teacher education students that in twenty years time each of them is likely to be responsible for the education of up to ninety or a hundred children with a team of para-professionals working to them. Most don't like the prospect. That prospect came several steps nearer with the disclosure of the paper "Workforce reform - blue skies".
Professor Colin Richards
Cumbria

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