People can't be fooled into the job;Letter

24th April 1998 at 01:00
Anthea Millett in the past has seemed one of the more intelligent of the leaders of national educational bodies. All the more therefore does her article (TES, April 3) stick in the craw.

She belabours teachers for not advocating a teaching career to their students. May I urge my colleagues to stop slacking and prepare their recruitment material immediately. I suggest they include the following points: * Teachers are led by charismatic politicians like Stephen Byers, David Blunkett and so many of their Tory predecessors, who show complete confidence in their staff and really care about them. l These people always listen to practitioners, consult research findings and do proper pilots before a sensitive and long-lasting implementation of policy.

* Teachers are fully backed by numerous quangos who will inform them regularly of their change of acronym.

* Teachers are supported by the cheap, honest, helpful and highly-efficient OFSTED system guided by far-sighted thinkers such as Chris Woodhead.

* The House of Commons education committee is chaired by Margaret Hodge MP who fully understands the way teachers in schools actually work together and is keen to give teachers even more opportunities to demonstrate their prowess over the academic year.

* The Department for Education and Employment does all it can to minimise unnecessary workload and alleviate stress.

* Teachers work in clean, smart surroundings with first-class facilities and adequate clerical staff so they can get on with the real job of teaching.

* The remuneration is excellent with extras like bonuses, company cars, removal expenses and share options readily available. If they are lucky they can gainfurther riches and enjoy theircolleagues' admiration as a superteacher.

* The SchoolTeachers Review Body ensures that the Treasury doesn't cheat them out of their annual pay adjustment that compares so favourably with the private sector. Extra work and greater efficiency are rewarded.

* They work with children who are culturally imbued with long-term concentration skills, are prepared for delayed gratification and have a thirst for knowledge.

Perhaps teachers have been telling pupils and the trainees they mentor that teaching is only theoretically a wonderful job. They might tell them that only sometimes is it actually a wonderful job. But teachers have a duty to be open and honest about the reality of the education service with those for whom they are responsible: the intelligent people Anthea Millett and teachers want to recruit would expect nothing less from them. It is a pity that this honesty and openness is so alien to many senior politicians and bureaucrats.

No amount of flashy advertising can make potential teachers blind to the chronic under-resourcing, the difficulties of teaching many of today's children and the incompetence of leadership that bedevils English education. I wonder why the great and the good who now advocate teaching as a career did not join the profession themselves?

Dr Chris Burke 8 Healey Dell Cottages Healey Bottoms Rochdale

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