Tories aren't looking at real problems

26th February 2010 at 00:00

Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove was quoted last week saying that: "A Conservative government will give every child the kind of education that is currently only available to the well-off: safe classrooms, talented and specialist teachers, access to the best curriculum and exams, and smaller schools where teachers know the children's names." ("The year just 45 free-meal pupils got to Oxbridge", February 19).

There was one thing missing from this list that is not already available in state schools - the thing parents will pay private schools for.

The clue was in a quote from a Finnish head which also appeared in the The TES: "... if there are more than 15 pupils in one class, there needs to be another class."

I work in a state school that has safe classrooms with talented and specialist teachers. The pupils already have access to the best curriculum and exams. It is also a smaller school where teachers know pupils' names. The one thing - the only thing - that will make any difference is never mentioned.

I have spent 30 years teaching and for much of it have been frustrated knowing that I could be doing a better job if I could see every pupil individually for a reasonable time during the one (65 minute) lesson I have with them each week. All the training, specialist knowledge, and so on, is of limited effectiveness if individual attention is (at best) less than two minutes per pupil per week.

Paul Ingleton, Head of music, Borden Grammar School, Sittingbourne, Kent.

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