No time to be all things to all pupils;Letter

5th March 1999 at 00:00
YOUR front page (TES, February 26) tells me that "Many teachers have little or no idea what defines an ethnic minority, what racism is or how to teach about it."

Equally you could say that many teachers do not know enough about disturbed, abused, dyslexic or autistic children and how to teach them; enough about drug abuse, family break-ups, depression in children, bullying, meningitis, asthma, epileptic fits.

Since the "Mr Chips" or "Miss Jean Brodie" teacher has long since been sacrificed to a heavily prescribed national curriculum of targets, levels, tests, tables and paper work, surely such findings should be levelled at parents, community and specialists.

Either we need to return to the "whole child" approach to education, giving teachers time to understand fully and address real life skills and issues, or pay specialists to do so, while the teachers simply deliver the curriculum in the politicians' relentless pursuit of academic success.

There are and always will be teachers who juggle both to the best of their ability, because of their awareness of what really matters, but they should not have to do so to the extent required of them now. It is impossible to fit both in effectively. In the name of Office for Standards in Education, levels and league tables, are we really heading for a more balanced society?

Barbara Garner, 9 Brookfield Way, Kibworth, Leicestershire

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