TES letters

25th July 2014 at 01:00

Why new faces should be all ears

Our profession hopes, perhaps naively, that the new education secretary Nicky Morgan is going to untie the Govian knot ("It's all change at the top. Time for a fresh start?", 18 July). There are several difficulties here. First, it seems she is going to pursue the same policies as Michael Gove, but "with a little less controversy". Surely she must realise that as unpopular as Mr Gove was personally, it was his policies that were controversial.

Second, it seems she is having her ear poisoned by allies telling her that the unions are in the grip of a left-wing agenda. The agenda of the unions is to secure a stable teaching profession to enable children in state schools to fully reach their potential. I'm not sure this is left-wing but it is certainly common sense.

The Tories have, typically, appointed a secretary of state who went to a private school and has no background in education. Therefore, Ms Morgan needs to go on an intense learning curve, and talk to professionals and unions. Between them they have millions of hours of experience; she needs to discover what their priorities are before she starts implementing anything.

Dave Walsham
Tatworth, Somerset

Both Michael Gove and Elizabeth Truss, although polite and courteous in person, were notorious for failing to listen to the views of education and early years professionals. Regardless of the weight of evidence presented to them, they would follow their own agenda, often denouncing those who held a different view as "the enemy", "misguided" and so forth. As a consequence, Mr Gove was the most divisive and unpopular education secretary for a generation.

We hope that the new incumbent and her team of ministers will be more receptive to the views of professionals and those who represent them, and will work with us to develop policies instead of imposing policies to be implemented. We look forward to meeting her and her team and working positively with them. This is indeed an opportunity for a "fresh start".

Deborah Lawson
General secretary, Voice

Summer learning loss? Give us a break

Once again we have the silly panic about "learning loss" over the summer break ("School's out for summer - and so is the learning", 18 July). This is nonsense - certainly in this country. We hear of headteachers using irrelevant American research to project a false worry on to us. Start messing with holidays piecemeal and you get families divided through differing regimes and this will lead to even more term-time absence, which is probably more harmful (although, again, not a properly researched disaster).

When are we going to get some real and relevant statistics on this old chestnut?

Paul Ingleton
Sittingbourne, Kent

Overwhelmed by warped priorities

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, managed to encapsulate the problems facing the English educational system ("We're a long way from the democratic ideal", Comment, 18 July).

As she states, "this excessive workload, which is driving out teachers at all stages of their careers, is not focused on improving teaching or learning but on recording what teachers have done or are planning to do".

Ms Bousted doesn't blame headteachers, but rather the system: "Labouring under intense pressure from a crude, inefficient accountability regime, many school leaders play it safe. They want a record of everything so that when the inspector calls, they can demonstrate that they know exactly what is going on."

We can all provide anecdotal stories of teachers voting with their feet. If one in every five who qualify in England ends up teaching abroad, I think we all know why.

David Rowlands
Lydbrook, Gloucestershire

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