Secret subversion is the only answer

15th October 2004 at 01:00
Following many years of nocturnal fantasies of letters to The TES, secretaries of state, the Office for Standards in Education etc. I have finally been roused to reply to the article by Sue Palmer (TES, September 24).

I normally enjoy her views but could only respond with anger at the supposition that teachers are to blame for teaching to the tests and for using enforced strategies.

I have just resigned from teaching after 18 years in primary schools.

During that time, like thousands of others, I have produced endless lesson plans, increased my administrative burden and sat through training sessions on the latest initiatives. I have also responded to these changes by keeping the useful ideas and modifying or ignoring the rubbish.

When I encountered Ofsted two years ago, the nursery I was running received a very good report although we had only skimmed through the foundation stage demands. The massive planning files were ignored but the team loved the exciting, caring atmosphere and high expectations for the children.

Unfortunately, Ofsted did not appreciate the rest of the school and we landed in serious weaknesses. Suddenly every inspector, adviser, governor and parent had the right to criticise the staff. Criticism became a daily feature of school life.

In order to demonstrate fitness to teach, the staff had to endure yet more literacy and numeracy training sessions - even the children in the videos looked bored. Every lesson needed to follow the given plan or the teacher would incur instant censure - the notion of professional judgement became a complete nonsense.

From excellent lessons in nursery, I became part of the "failed" team and dropped to satisfactorygood in Reception. I also faced a huge battle to ensure quality continuous provision and relevant activities in Reception.

Finally, after 18 exhausting months, the second Ofsted pronounced us as good. The only criticism? Following the literacy and numeracy guidance for Reception - we should have used our own judgement!

I was an emotional wreck and decided then that I could no longer stand up for my education philosophy against everyone else. I firmly believe that no teacher, or group of teachers, can stand against the tide of league tables and tests.

As long as headteachers and unions bow down to government dictat, the lowly classroom practitioner will continue to follow instructions andor teach by their own beliefs in secret.

Sylvia Cramp 83 College Avenue Huddersfield

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