State teachers' 'betrayal' is nothing of the sort

23rd October 2009 at 01:00

A few years ago, I would have agreed with the views expressed in Ellie Levenson's article. I have spent all my life in state schools (I was state educated and am a teacher with 30 years' experience). Our three children have received 31 years of state education between them. I am totally committed to providing the best possible education for all children.

Four years ago, as a result of a combination of factors, my circumstances - and my view - changed. As responsible parents, we raised issues with our children's schools - not related specifically to our children but more to do with how the schools were organised, including their policies on behaviour, teaching and learning and external exams. Many of our friends - non-teachers - had tried to raise similar issues with the primary and secondary schools concerned and we had heard their tales of woe. We were very careful to be supportive to the schools while stating the problems.

I was naive to think that because I was working in the "system" I would have more success. I was not prepared for the outcome: in a letter copied to the head of the education department, I was told that I had "gone beyond my position as a parent and a council employee".

After many meetings and much anguish, we were forced to conclude that, like our non-teaching friends, we were failing to get improvements made. We were left with the very sorry conclusion that state schools do not have to listen to parents.

Our eldest child is now at university, our middle child is in the latter years of state secondary school, while our youngest is in an independent school. The hardworking headteacher there is open and receptive to feedback. Many of the parents are not "wealthy or stuck up" - a surprising number also put older siblings through the state sector but become progressively dissatisfied. These parents believed in the comprehensive system, but finally admitted defeat.

As a teacher, I strive each day to improve the provision for all my pupils while contributing ideas about how we can become a better school. This has not changed because my child is not in the school.

Name and address supplied, State school teacher and mother.

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