Letters extra: encouragement works

18th May 2001 at 01:00

Ian Whitwham's article ("Boatloads of 'good' reports", TES May 4) missed the mark. The idea that a return to old-fashioned values is a good thing is misguided. Accentuating the positive is a strategy that works to the benefit of all students. As someone who attended a streamed comprehensive in the 1970s, I remember failing abysmally at the subjects which found me in the low(est) stream, and passing the four subjects at which I was in the top class.

The idea of comprehensive schools is to ensure that all students have the same opportunity, and there is plenty of evidence to show that this philosophy works. Many are the times when I have taken a class and been warned about "troublemakers", those students who have been stigmatised by low expectations. As a supply teacher I have often had to pick up the pieces of bad teaching, and am still moved when "low achievers" reach the top of the class.

Some people would call me idealistic, but I do believe that all students have the ability to get through GCSE.

Accentuating positive efforts works: castigating low achievement does not.

Tom Prunty

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