Letters Extra: Where's your proof?

17th January 2003 at 00:00

The Government says that allowing teaching assistants to teach wholenbsp;classes will lead to increased standards.nbsp; But there is no evidence tonbsp;support this.nbsp;

The OECD recently tested pupils throughout the world andnbsp;found that excellent education systems had highly qualified teachers and comprehensive schooling.nbsp;In Finland, which came top, a large number of teachers have two degrees.nbsp;

A good teacher plans lessons by observing andnbsp;building on what the pupils have learned in previous lessons.nbsp; How can ateacher do this if they are not in the classroom?

I know from the experiences of my son, who has learning difficulties what valuable work dedicated teaching assistants do. But working withnbsp;individuals or small groups under the guidance of a qualified teacher isnbsp;not the same as planning, teaching and marking for whole classes.nbsp;

How many teaching assistants who enjoy the success of their work would feelnbsp;the same as substitute teachers.

How can we solve the teacher shortage?nbsp;There are qualified teachers.nbsp;The problem is keeping them in teaching.nbsp;The shortage is of teachers preparednbsp;to work for the pay and conditions offered.nbsp;

Statistics show that 58 per centnbsp;of final year trainee teachers have left within three years of their firstnbsp;teaching job.nbsp;Will the Government tackle this problem or does it seek anbsp;cheap solution, which will damage the long-term educational prospects fornbsp;our children.

The NUT has balloted to see if teachers agree with the Government's proposals. I believe that parents and pupils should have a right to saynbsp;what they think about whole classes being taught by teaching assistants.

Keith Bunting
Warwickshire NUT Divisional Secretary
Willes Terrace
Leamington Spa

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