Photographs didn't show the true picture

2nd December 2011 at 00:00

I read with interest your cover story on boot-camp culture in schools (11 November) - it was well written and challenged all our thinking in genuinely constructive ways. As for the images, well, they were surely tongue-in-cheek.

I was photographed looking through a barrier; children were asked not to smile; pupils were asked to move from a wall adorned with artwork while a bare wall was found for a backdrop (it took a while); there was a request to photograph a boy in isolation (none had been placed in isolation, so it was staged). Dear me.

As an English specialist, currently teaching Year 10 a unit on the use of images and headlines for provocativepersuasive purposes in non-fiction, I appreciate the drama they create. Sadly, they are not helpful to this debate. The images are good to look at but do not anchor the findings from the article.

The article focused on one aspect of our work - developing good learning habits with Years 7-9 - and, as such, there was no space to mention the following aspects of our work, which readers need to know before coming to any conclusion. Our care for children is outstanding, and an independent survey has found we have enthusiastic and happy learners. Supply teachers routinely comment on the warmth and happiness of our children and, according to Ofsted, parents are "overwhelmingly happy with the school".

Our system is to develop the habits of pupils in Years 7-9, so they know to be on time, work hard, be nice and arrive equipped. This allows our teachers to do what they love: teaching. By Years 10 and 11 we can relax the system. Good behaviour means detentions rarely need to be given and we can enjoy learning with pupils as people.

Drew Duncan, Headteacher, Mossley Hollins High, Greater Manchester.

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