Letters extra: We've forgotten that teaching could be fun

6th April 2001 at 01:00

William Hague now says that the conservatives will reverse the Labour government's bullying of teachers. How laughable! The previous conservative government appointed Chris Woodhead as chief inspector of schools.

He appears to have spearheaded this policy through the OFSTED inspections. Why are schools now scratching around to fill vacant teaching posts with retired teachers from here, and others from overseas?

I retired from teaching two years ago. I had worked happily in the profession, both here and abroad, for about thirty years. I felt that I was doing a useful job. But I became disillusioned.

Education in schools now seems to have become a business proposition in this country. Teachers are given targets to achieve, eg, how many of their pupils gain A-C grades at GCSE - rather like salesmen's end of the month figures. Former heads of year are now called year managers.

Teachers now have to deliver a curriculum, rather than encourage pupils to learn, and be excited by new learning. Success or failure seems to be measured in profit and loss terms.

Education in schools needs to be functional - to develop pupils' aptitudes so that they can become useful and productive members of society. For many, many years a "liberal" education has been the mainstay and ideal of our education system. Function and liberality are both needed.

Teachers need to feel that they are making a valued individual contribution to the education of their pupils, instead of some notional "value-added" computation being applied.

There can be interest and joy in teaching and learning.

Have we lost it?

D E Tidmarsh
Westcliffe-on-Sea
Essex SSO 8BS

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