Thriving sector

25th August 1995 at 01:00
Many of the 2,400 schools in the independent sector operate in a way which would bring few plaudits from heads of the reputable schools in the sector. However, it would be wrong to give the impression that those who teach in the top independent schools have less good working conditions than those teaching elsewhere. (TES, August 18).

It is true that such schools expect a great deal of their teachers - "not so much a job as a way of life" - but most who come to teach in the sector have similar expectations. Almost all Headmasters' Conference schools put more into their salaries budget than similar-sized state schools and most offer other benefits particularly if they are boarding schools.

Most teachers would say their greatest satisfaction comes from the opportunities to work with generally well-motivated and disciplined children, not only in their subject but in a range of other activities, including sport, music and drama.

It would help if the Association of Teachers and Lecturers troubleshooter could make it clear that he is talking about "the less acceptable face of the independent sector". I cannot believe that the statement that "bullying by heads is worse in independent schools" could be sustained as far as HMC schools are concerned. Working closely with colleagues in the maintained sector I know the large numbers of problems faced by those heads. Bullying is not a one-way process. Nor is it clear that the existence of local authorities has always been to the advantage of heads and their staff.

It is not only in the independent sector where teachers have been made redundant. Indeed, even in the recession, the total number of teachers employed in HMC schools has continued to rise. Certainly some boarding schools have shed staff but, as Brian Lane said, "independent schools can survive if they are able to react quickly enough to trends". Many are thriving.

V S ANTHONY

Secretary Headmasters' Conference.

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