17th April 2015 at 01:00

Every lesson is a research project

Professor Dylan Wiliam seems to have overlooked the huge research programme taking place each day in classrooms nationwide ("The research delusion", Feature, 10 April). All too often, learning is measured by politicians and academics in units of short-term gain (test scores). Discerning teachers, who are in it for the long haul, have relentless inner critics. Their professional dialogue is informed by the latest practice harvested from the last lesson. If external research is compelling, they try it out, but they're too level-headed to jump on bandwagons.

Yvonne Williams

Ryde, Isle of Wight

We are often told that ideas from government are based on research. As Professor Dylan Wiliam points out, research is never conclusive because context is vital. That context is complex and often dependent on individual teachers and classrooms. CPD geared to the individual is therefore key. We need to create a culture of learning where discussion is felt to be as important as reading the latest research (TES articles excepted!).

Frederick Sandall

Retired headteacher and local authority adviser

`Zero tolerance' leaves us none the wiser

So, the Conservatives are planning to promote "resit tests" in secondary schools for Year 7s (bit.lyResitTests).

Apparently, the Tories want "zero tolerance of failure and mediocrity". Zero tolerance of mediocrity - the quality of being average - is, by definition, zero tolerance of half the population. And if we have zero tolerance of failure then we will be teaching children not to learn or risk anything. All learning involves failure in order to grow, correct, adapt, change and succeed.

What we need is a radical repositioning of what it means to be a "great school" - a place where children are happy, fulfilled, learning and exploring, discovering opportunities, becoming self-aware, aspiring to a career or productive role in society.and tested in national exams as little as possible.

Corydon Lowde

Headmaster, Box Hill School?, Surrey

Inspire others as you were once inspired

Like many, I suspect, I was saddened and angry reading in TES about a trainee teacher's experiences ("Teacher training like this deserves a red card", Professional, 10 April). My PGCE was the hardest but most rewarding year of my life. It stood me in good stead and I loved every minute of it (well, almost).

Teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate. Many who do qualify are taking their skills to less stressful and often warmer environments. Shouldn't we be concentrating our efforts on inspiring trainees as we were once inspired? Shame on any institution that provides substandard teacher training, and any school that cannot muster the time and professionalism to mentor trainee teachers. Is it any wonder that there is a recruitment crisis with stories like this?

Keely Laycock

Gilcrux, Cumbria

Let kids read when they're good and ready

It is no surprise to find a correlation between reading ability in primary and higher pay in later life (News at a glance, 10 April). Strong reading skills have many important benefits and must continue to be nurtured. What is rather worrying is the notion that investment in "high-quality" nursery staff is an appropriate response. Pushing reading skills too early is at best a waste of time and at worst could be detrimental. Inappropriate pressure can destroy a love of reading.

Teaching Norwegian six-year-olds in their first year of formal school confirmed for me that a focus on social skills and well-being in the early years leaves children ready and willing to learn formal reading and writing on entry to school. Nursery staff who are allowed to care for, play and share books with children will provide the best basis for reading readiness.

Louise Knight


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