TES letters

15th August 2014 at 01:00

A-levels can't last for ever, but meddling is eternal

I wouldn't put money on A-levels still being with us in 20 or even 10 years' time ("The (g)old standard", Feature, 8 August). The question is simply how soon the change will come. The irony is that, just as employers and the Royal Society are calling for a broader curriculum, the coming changes to AS-levels are likely to narrow the range of subjects that students take.

Sir John Holman
University of York

To fully appreciate and understand the article `The (g)old standard", the reader must be aware that since the "secret garden of the curriculum" was created, it has been an ongoing puzzle that is nevertheless demanded by parents and employers. The intervention of government has repeatedly created confusion and disappointment. Education must be executed by teachers.

R Wolstencroft

Tablet talk can be a bitter pill to swallow

The emphasis in your technology article last week ("Once it was `wow', now it's `whatever' ", 8 August) actually demonstrates what the problem really is. Almost every paragraph describes how pupils are losing interest in "tablets", when surely we should be focusing on the tablet's content and the potential for developing independent learning - a point touched on by IT expert Miles Berry only in the final sentence.

John Berry
Education consultant, Newark

Disadvantaged pupils have lost a lifeline

What a pity that Carol Azumah Dennis appears to be so unaware of the facts or the wider context in her article "Saying good riddance to bad qualifications" (Further, 1 August). She singles out a qualification that - along with many others after the Alison Wolf review - no longer contributes to the headline performance measures by which schools and colleges are judged in the brave new world of examinations and assessment. As was pointed out to Professor Wolf at the time, the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE) was neither a qualification that attracted "multiple equivalence" - which led to "gaming" by some schools and colleges to inflate results - nor was it a vocational qualification. Far from being "a lesser qualification", independent national research indicates the significant impact of its use on learner attainment in core subjects including GCSE English and maths.

Dave Brockington
Asdan strategy adviser

Trust in teachers' expertise

As a special educational needs professional with 37 years' front-line experience, I wholeheartedly agree with Mary Bousted ("We're a long way from the democratic ideal", 18 July) in her incisive assessment of how and why school leaders need to move to a democratic, horizontal model.

Notwithstanding Ofsted ratings, no teacher or school community wants to be anything less than excellent in how they support, develop and promote the learning and progress of their students - and the same invariably applies to the development of staff. Moving from special measures to at least good requires leaders to take control; beyond that they need to let go and trust in the expertise and experience of colleagues.

Yes, data plays its part but the most effective teachers are those who can engage their charges by building positive relationships, hooking them in to education and learning, engaging with parents and developing a growth mindset among everyone with whom they work.

Garry Freeman
Leeds, West Yorkshire

A wide world of opportunity

I read your article concerning the draw of the international education market on UK teachers ("Sun, sea, sand.and international schools", 1 August) with interest.

As your article highlights, the growing British international schools market offers a wealth of opportunity for teachers from the UK; yet, as a group, we are seeing increasing competition from Australian, New Zealand and American teachers.

I found the warnings about the problems facing teachers overseas a little overblown, although it is wise for them to do their research carefully. Many reputable schools in the international market offer teachers rich and rewarding careers in some very high-achieving schools. The emphasis is on careers, not short-term contracts. International schools are increasingly at the forefront of new developments in education.

We work closely with Dulwich College in London on our senior appointments and several teachers have moved from our "mother" school to our establishments in Asia. This is not altruism. It is to ensure that our students benefit from some of the best teachers in the world.

Laurence Cook
Director of communications and marketing, Dulwich College International

An inspirational lesson to learn

I was recently asked to teach English (my mother tongue) to a Spanish student who was born blind 50 years ago. My first reaction was: what a bad gig! Instead, I have been humbled.

Through the miracle of Braille, she can communicate in several languages. When she reads, sometimes exasperatingly slowly, her fingers racing across the keys, it is as if I were teaching a child. But she is not a child and her mind is exceptional. Her face, when she gets an answer right, takes on the ecstatic expression of a medieval saint. What a privilege.

Jonathan Barry
Chichester, West Sussex


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