tesletters

15th May 2015 at 01:00

Students thrive when nurture is in our nature

Sir Ken Robinson and Alistair McConville both argue for a creative approach to education to help children become fully rounded individuals ("The education system is a dangerous myth" and "Battle for the arts and minds", 8 May).

But it needn't be an eitheror situation: creativity or education, as it currently seems to be. The development of a whole-school nurturing approach can help to meet the varied social and educational needs of each child. Thankfully, more schools are becoming nurturing as they see the well-evidenced benefits for their students and teachers.

Sir Ken and Mr McConville make a good case, but they need to acknowledge the many teachers and leaders who appreciate the value of a creative approach and stand up for the cause of supporting children to develop as rounded individuals.

Garry Freeman

Special educational needs coordinator and director of inclusion, Leeds

Healing the wounds of well-being

Ensuring the well-being of children in school requires a systemic solution. As a society, we must stop hoping that applying sticking plasters to gaping wounds will somehow work miracles. Voices such as Sir Ken Robinson espouse the ills of the current system, but very few professionals (teachers, headteachers) seem willing to sit up, take note and act to heal the causes of damage to children's well-being. Could VisionWorks for Schools consider that it might be just another contributor prolonging the agony of a failing system? ("All's well that tends well-being", Letters, 8 May.)

Louise Knight

Exmouth International School

On Nicky Morgan's to-do list.

Having been reappointed education secretary, Nicky Morgan faces an enormous recruitment and retention problem. Current training routes are not providing enough new blood. The long hours are draining; the pay is insufficient compared with that of other professions in a recovering economy. The Workload Challenge was the first step towards officially recognising and analysing the excessive demands placed on teachers. To provide the right incentive for change, Ofsted should rein in its bureaucratic demands and require senior management to demonstrate that teachers' time is managed as efficiently as budgets.

Yvonne Williams

Ryde, Isle of Wight

We're in it together but some have it worse

We are a low-funded school serving an area of high deprivation. I do understand that the funding crisis is hitting all schools, and I'm not happy that grammars face large class sizes and may have to axe courses ("Grammars bemoan cost of being well-off", 8 May), but I wonder how much of their budget is spent on breakfasts, uniform, pastoral staff, counsellors and so on, while we try to plug the gaps and provide a good education. Oh, and we also face rising class sizes and having to axe courses.

Name and address supplied

Open your eyes to the beauty of science

As a biology teacher, I disagree with the divide between science and the arts that is described as "all Stem, no flower" ("It's a new political dawn, so let's all start afresh", Editorial, 8 May). Science can be incredibly beautiful. I encourage all my students to take time to observe and appreciate living things, from a bumblebee pollinating a flower to the intricacies of protein molecules interacting as a muscle contracts.

My colleague runs a biological drawing club, where pupils who don't consider themselves "artists" discover new talents and appreciation of complexity. The more you look, the more beauty you see. So don't make the divide between the arts and science greater; let's see what we can learn from each other.

Anna Jolliffe

Wellington School, Somerset

`Just teach them' sets us free

Tom Bennett ("Over-engineered", Comment, 8 May) declares that all a teacher needs is "a brain full of wisdom and a voice", and that all they need to do with pupils is "just teach them". Yes!

When, after three years of lecturing in further education, I moved to a new comprehensive school, a county English adviser was brought in to tell me how I should teach mixed-ability classes. The advice amounted to: a brief subject introduction followed by "worksheets - it will keep them occupied".

I took my two degrees and ran away to a grammar school, and later two independents, where it felt as if all they asked of me was "just teach them". And it was such a wonderful job.

Hilary Moriarty

Education consultant and former headteacher

Don't steal state schools' gifted children

Shouvik Datta ("Independents, go back to core principles", Letters, 8 May) suggests private schools should provide bursaries for poor but academically gifted children. This is just the sort of "inside the palace walls" thinking that so infuriates us in the state sector. Taking bright children away from state schools merely serves to damage league table results. It also increases the critical mass of low-ability students in each class.

If independent schools want to do something useful, they could try teaching low-ability, poorly motivated children. Oh sorry, I forgot: Dulwich College tried linking up with Isle of Sheppey Academy in Kent but pulled out because the headteacher admitted his staff were not equipped to help "difficult to teach" pupils.

Stick to your cloisters and quads, and don't make our job even harder by pinching bright, easy-to-teach students.

Ben Warren

Headteacher, Summerhill School, Dudley

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