Time to tell ministers where to go

14th February 2003 at 00:00
IT is again interesting to compare the front and back pages with David Miliband's latest initiative to root out "bad" teachers versus Ted Wragg's witty but salutary analysis of previous inititiatives, particularly within the curriculum (TES, January 31).

One cannot defend poor teaching andor poor management and the proposal to allow those failing practitioners (1.2 per cent of the workforce if my numeracy is correct) to "leave with dignity" is welcome. As with so many other past political perceptions, however, I cannot help thinking that along with this idea, the celebration of 98.8 per cent at least satisfactory teachers should be articulated a little more often.

Professor Wragg's observations on prescription are even more important.

Initiatives should be valid, important and well thought out, and this Government has brought about many good things during its terms of office.

It has, however, introduced many things that may have been good in intent but not in implementation, and the literacy and numeracy changes are exemplars of that very political view: "This is the way to do it" and any deviation will be frowned upon, especially by the inspectors.

When dealing with children who may only get one chance with each change we have sometimes failed as a profession in not questioning more often the philosophy or methodology of major changes to the way we teach.

In the past, when the Government has said: "Jump", we have done so, but with the overriding thought: "How low can we get away with because we distrust the premise."

With any new scheme we now need to say: "Good idea, how can we best implement it to suit our school and our children?" Or occasionally, as a profession, we need to say: "Sod off, it won't work."

Tony Roberts

144 Cop Lane

Penwortham, Preston

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