Staff give thumbs up for today's teaching

8th February 2008 at 00:00
Today's teachers believe they are doing a better job than those who taught them. But there are still some who remember the Sixties as a golden age.

When the exam board OCR asked nearly 800 secondary staff whether classroom teaching is better than when they were teenagers, more than eight out of 10 agreed.

But there were some dissenters, most notably those who grew up in the 1960s. Among those who were teenagers in that decade, 24 per cent said teaching was better during the "flower power" era; 76 per cent said modern lessons were superior.

The contrast was greater among younger staff. Of those taught in the 1970s, 86 per cent said today's teaching was better; 13 per cent said it wasn't. Among those growing up in the 1980s the split was 85 per cent to 12 per cent. Perhaps surprisingly, teachers who grew up in the 1990s offered the biggest vote of confidence in modern methods: 87 per cent thought teaching was better now than 10 years ago, with only 11 per cent disagreeing.

The survey also showed remarkable votes of confidence for other aspects of modern school life. Pupils are thought to have better access to sports facilities now than their predecessors did from the 1960s to the 1990s. And today's teachers are seen to have more opportunities to take pupils on school trips and do out-of-school activities, in spite of safety concerns.

Eight out of 10 considered pupils were under more pressure nowadays: two-thirds said today's pupils were more "psychologically fragile".

Rob Linsdell, market research manager for OCR Nationals qualifications, said: "Teachers obviously empathise with the pressures to which teenagers are exposed."

Gareth Calway, 51, is the former head of English at Smithdon High in Hunstanton, Norfolk. He spent his teenage years, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, at a grammar school in south Wales. "Teaching now is just exam coaching," he said. "The pressure is to pass exams, rather than to educate the children.

"As a teacher, you should be able to develop your own strategies. Instead, you are being told what to do."

An advanced skills teacher, who asked not to be named but grew up in Edinburgh and now, in her 30s, works in London, said: "Teaching is worse now than when I was growing up. The main problems in London are teacher and pupil turnover, which make teaching harder."

Return to 1960s freedom, page 20

Class of 1858, Magazine, page 14.

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