We don't have time to get out more

9th February 2007 at 00:00
The quality of teaching in Wales is deemed by inspection agency Estyn to be at its best since 1999. However, that is not enough for the so-called experts who expect our teachers to be as good at digging holes as teaching phonics (see page 7).

The great strides teachers have made in producing some of the most interesting and creative lessons that we have ever seen should not be overshadowed by the fact that many simply don't have time to be at one with the great outdoors.

Today's teacher is expected to digest more initiatives, ideas for good practice, paperwork and continuing professional development courses than any generation before them. He or she is so busy that, by the time the weekend comes, it is simply a question of catch-up - with the kids, bills, shopping, housework andor course planning and marking.

Little wonder, then, that a walk in the woods to hear the birds sing, or a spot of gardening as welcome respite from the daily grind, is often overtaken by the demands of juggling work and home life.

Teaching innovation and imagination in the classroom has come into its own with the pilot foundation phase, challenging children to think more creatively and independently. It is also great that we are encouraging our "cotton wool-wrapped" pupils to go outside.

I'm sure it will be therapeutic for teachers to get some fresh air. I'm sure there are many who already do that. But, times have changed, and this has to be acknowledged by the experts preaching a return to the "good old days".

They say it is safer than thought for parents and teachers to let their children take risks. But who will carry the can if things go pear-shaped? Who will pay the legal costs? I am not so sure the experts at last week's conference came up with answers to that one.

Let's hope their advice will not dig any more legal pitfalls, let alone holes, for our talented new generation of teachers.

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