We're still waiting for our reward

18th February 2000 at 00:00
FAR from giving us "something for something" Mr Blair has given us "nothing for something".

Over the past two years primary teachers have successfully implemented both the national literacy and numeracy strategies for nothing (no additional pay rises for key stage 1 and 2 teachers).

The training for the literacy strategy in some parts of the country misled teachers into believing that if they did not deliver five one-hour literacy sessions a week they were not fulfilling the requirements and that fire and brimstone would descend from county hall.

Some local authorities are now trying to distance themselves from their original training. Eighteen months further on we now discover Office for Standards in Education inspectors saying that they do not like the literacy hour and that schools should consider perhaps two or at the most three sessions a week supported by extended writing sessions.

Many teachers spend up to four hours a weekend (and more) planning for no extra money. Surely this puts the rise and threshold proposal into perspective. The Government has got away with debilitating the teaching profession by unnecessary paperwork.

Coupled to this is the requirement placed upon headteachers to carry out rigorous classroom monitoring in orderthat teachers may be considered worthy of passing through the threshold.

Surely this will place further pressure upon tired teachers, thus increasing the likelihood of nervous exhaustion, breakdown, time off work and increased cost to the National Health Service?

OFSTED inspections are focusing very much upon the issue of monitoring classroom performance and one wonders whether there is a political agenda here to force headteachers to monitor teacher performance - here we see again the Government attempting to use headteachers to force through flawed policy.

The Government has got itself into one unholy mess over education. This emanates from ministers not really understanding how schools function and a simplistic attempt to apply business principles to schools.

While in some cases this works, for instance "best value" when purchasing resources, it is lunacy for the Government to expect teachers to give their time and jeopardise their health and family life for nothing.

Schools work as teams and trust is the bonding element - the teaching profession trusted this Government in that it believed hard work would be rewarded. We still await our reward.

Richard Carter, Headteacher, Beacon Community junior school, Falmouth, Cornwall

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