Trust teachers not to fall apart

11th June 2004 at 01:00
Column writers enjoy access to a national platform denied to most. Such privilege demands responsibility. Yet Judith Judd's polemic "Naughty boys will fail if we trust teachers" (TES, May 28) demonises the entire teaching profession as untrustworthy.

Demonstrating up-to-the-minute insight, she points to Barry Hines's experiences in the Fifties. She backs up her argument with reference to one piece of research, in the way that advertisements for cosmetics bring on the scientists. Yes indeed. Proof positive that teachers cannot be trusted.

An external national check does not guarantee accurate assessment and is by no means secure. Hundreds of other schools can give examples of inaccurate marking following last year's key stage 2 tests, my own included.

Teachers in primary and secondary schools work hard to hold together a society whose fabric is unravelling. Schools are constantly challenged, not only in the inner cities. Many provide wrap-around care, offering children breakfast at the start of the day and providing clubs and activities after school. This provision amazes colleagues visiting from abroad. Social work forms an essential part of the job and schools provide increasing numbers of children with a stability and continuity not found at home.

Can't trust teachers? We pick up the pieces, none of which is measured through league tables or test results.

The normal journalistic response to good news in education is that "standards are falling" or teachers are cheating, so sadly Judith Judd is not alone. Might I suggest a title for another article: "Society will fall apart if we fail to trust teachers".

Michael Booth Headteacher Helmsley CP school Helmsley North Yorkshire

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