Pain of having dedicated staff's methods trashed

13th June 1997 at 01:00
I am Sue Pearson's predecessor and for 19 years led an intelligent and dedicated staff at Lache infant school, Chester. I do not accept any suggestion in your report (TES, June 6) that standards were low or behaviour problems rife at the school.

Like Sue Pearson, I recognised early that many of the Lache children would not learn to read if we did not address the problem.

We introduced perceptual education. The aim was to build very firm basic skills so that our children could benefit from the wider education offered later. It was a scheme, very similar to the Reading Recovery programme. It demanded skills and dedication. Children enjoyed learning. It embraced the needs of all abilities and included all aspects of English and mathematics. It was a highly structured approach which emphasised perceptual and cognitive skills. We tried hard to adapt it to fit in with the ever-increasing national curriculum demands.

In the initial days of the national curriculum I begged for the natural progress of child development to be taken into account and warned against overloading infant teachers. They need time to watch and listen. Our young children need some individual attention. Reading skills in all children are not acquired by simply listening to a child read. Perceptual teachers analyse, know auditory or visual needs and provide supportive activities.

My former staff and I have spent a most horrific week, during which we have been snatched from obscurity to national publicity, our methods have been trashed and our reputation shattered. I would advise reporters that there are very many dedicated infant teachers in our schools and it would be of benefit to themselves and the teachers dismissed so flippantly, to check facts before inflicting so much pain.

Anyone who knows anything about education will recognise that most of our infant teachers have the ability and commitment to ensure firm basic skills are acquired. If relieved of some of the time-consuming demands of the national curriculum, time for consolidation would thus be created.

Teachers also need the right to be flexible, to develop their own skills and ideas and to meet the needs of their particular group of children.

PAT PIERCE, 21 Ploughmans Way, Great Sutton, South Wirral

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