Urban lessons to be learned;Letter

30th April 1999 at 01:00
RICHARD Riddell opens up an urgently-needed debate in "Tower blocks of learning" (TES, April 9). In the course of visiting schools in many parts of the country, I have seen some inspiring examples of challenging teaching and innovative strategies for encouraging pupils in urban schools to achieve and enjoy their learning experiences.

Very often, however, the perception of these schools is based on comparisons with schools with which they cannot logically be compared. The danger of this sort of comparison is that it leads to the assumption that the problems of these extremely challenging schools might well be solved if they attracted a greater proportion of higher-achieving pupils.

Isn't it time for us to do exactly what Richard Riddell suggests, by acknowledging that urban schools require a specific urban pedagogy?

They should be encouraged to become "specialist" schools which may require, in many cases, a radically different and more flexible curriculum than is possible through opportunities currently offered by disapplication of the key stage 4 curriculum.

As Mr Riddell says, children have different ways of learning, and many teachers working in urban schools are highly skilled in understanding these and developing effective teaching methods.

By trying to become more like schools with which they have little in common, the chances are that they will serve neither the pupils who will benefit from the development of an "urban pedagogy", nor those pupils who they are made to feel they should by trying to attract.

Along with the specialist technology colleges and performing arts schools, perhaps a specialist urban school category should be created which acknowledges more publicly and gives credence to the different ways in which children learn.

Jackie Goodman 725 Beverley Road, Hull

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