27th March 2015 at 00:00

When will we wake up to the value of experience?

As an experienced teacher who is finding it difficult to secure permanent employment after being made redundant, I identify with the struggles many older teachers face ("I'm experienced.so why can't I get a job?", Feature, 20 March). Our wealth of expertise in many facets of teaching and learning certainly benefits students. We therefore offer good value for money.

Unfortunately, as also highlighted in TES, many schools are dealing with severe budget constraints ("Jobs at risk as schools face `financial disaster' ", News, 20 March), meaning that experienced staff are likely to lose their jobs and not be reappointed. Organisations are very clever at avoiding equality legislation. Although I am convinced that I have been turned down for numerous positions because of cost, I cannot prove it.

I would urge all teaching unions to prevent discrimination. To achieve this, we need to change the attitudes of politicians, budget controllers and staff appointers, as well as the public, so that they see experienced employees as valuable assets.

Name and address supplied

One College of Teaching, diverse opinions

Prime minister David Cameron and I have lived in very different countries under the coalition ("Bit by bit, education is changing for the better", Comment, 20 March). In his country, he trusts teachers; in mine, even the education secretary admits teachers' workload has swollen under the accountability regime.

Like Mr Cameron, I think an independent College of Teaching is an excellent idea. My vision requires elected leaders; his are chosen by government. My college would value classroom research across the country and put practitioners in touch to test, evaluate and disperse good ideas before they are commodified for commercial profit. My college would provide strategic, customised training for the long-term benefit of all.

Otherwise I'd rather keep my pound;70 annual subscription.

Yvonne Williams

Ryde, Isle of Wight

On reading articles in this week's TES (David Cameron's comment piece and Rae Gilbert's feature among them), I was reminded of the link between teaching and learning. We know that "learning" is something you do for yourself. You can learn by being "taught" but this is by no means exclusive.

Obviously teachers are vital, but schools need to utilise a variety of approaches to support learning. These will include "great teachers", of whatever age and background, but also members of the community who can often motivate more reluctant learners.

So bring on the College of Teaching but remember, we learn in a variety of ways and from a variety of people, too.

Frederick Sandall

Retired headteacher

Looked-after and locked out of achievement

The saying "You don't fatten a pig for market by weighing it" seems apt when considering the educational achievements of looked-after children (By the numbers, 20 March).

Over the past 15 years many initiatives to raise achievement have concentrated on monitoring and recording, with scant regard for the developmental and cognitive problems of children who have been abused, neglected and traumatised.

If we are serious about wanting to address this imbalance, a display of political and economic courage and honesty is required: child development must be placed firmly at the centre of teacher training and CPD in order to equip teachers with the tools to work effectively with this cohort. Look after all children and the outcomes will look after themselves.

Kevin Street

Education consultant and author

Don't let cuts sever skills growth

While it is clear that the government must do all it can to operate within an increasingly constrained budget, the cuts to non-apprenticeship further education constitute a significant drop for colleges and training providers. This will inevitably make it harder to meet the needs of students.

These cuts could also impact on adults who require new skills - a likely scenario for the millions who will have to change career to keep working until retirement age. All political parties should seek a consensus that retains as much as possible of this important part of the education framework.

Mark Farrar

Chief executive, Association of Accounting Technicians

What gives about charitable ignorance?

The Department for Education really ought get its facts right before loosing off ill-informed comment ("We're not elitists in ivory towers, say private schools", News, 20 March).

There are two categories of independent school. The majority have charitable status and are, quite properly, held to account by the Charity Commission. They are seen to be failing if they can't meet a test of "public benefit". The second, smaller group, of which we are one, are run on a "for-profit" basis and are not charities, so do not need to meet the same criteria.

Christopher Price

Senior partner, Merton Court Preparatory School, London

Tapping into election fever

I would like to congratulate TES for the election debate it held in London (www.tesconnect.comteshustings). I was struck by the quality of questions on every aspect of education, from radicalisation to free schools, and the clarity of the politicians' answers. It was nice to see so many young, politically motivated teachers in the audience. I hope they go back to their schools and enthuse pupils with the thrill of the democratic process. If these hustings were anything to go by it's going to be a scintillating election campaign.

Stan Labovitch

Windsor, Berkshire

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