I totally agree with Ann Mroz’s comment that we live in a gender “no-woman’s land”, with casual sexism all around us (“Girls win at school but still lose the gender war”, Editorial, 26 August). My sixth-formers are astonished when I tell them about the Everyday Sexism Project. And just this week on Radio 4, racing driver Susie Wolff described how her car was painted pink!
As educators, I firmly believe we need to keep fighting this battle for equality and fairness for all.
Narrow view of ‘redundant’ GCSEs
Tim Jones asserts “now that no one leaves school at 16 [GCSEs are] kind of redundant” (“Uninspiring GCSEs prompt rise of DIY qualifications”, Insight, 26 August). In independent schools that may well be the case. But many students do leave school at 16 and go on to study at further education colleges. While there may be faults with GCSEs, there is still a need for young people’s achievements to be recognised in a way that gives them options.
Learn the value of lifelong education
It was good to see the media highlighting the achievements of A-level and GCSE students. However, we mustn’t forget that we all continue to learn throughout life. Colchester, for example, has a long tradition of being a “learning town”. The erstwhile adult community college at Grey Friars was a national leader in academic achievement. But the benefits of lifelong learning are not confined to high achievers.
Continuing to learn throughout life improves individuals’ life chances and encourages self-belief. As a consequence it strengthens families and communities. It keeps the mind active and helps us to cope in life-changing circumstances.
Government should nurture a culture of learning regardless of age, ability, financial status or previous experience. It is an investment – not a cost. The stories in a 1990s video from Grey Friars (bit.ly/GreyFriars) could be an inspiration to many people. It’s never too late to learn!
Former principal, Grey Friars, Colchester
Selective education worked for me
When I passed my 11-plus, I was shocked and delighted (“The price of privilege”, 26 August). Although I went from being near the top of the class to near the bottom, I hugely enjoyed my all-girls school. I loved the enthusiasm of my teachers and peers. Yes, I was teased at times, struggled on occasions and was never part of the in-crowd, but I left with a passion for learning and aspirations for the future.
Selective education worked for me. It gave me opportunities I would never have had. As a teacher in a selective education area, I now encourage pupils to try their best in the 11-plus. Sadly, the role of private tuition is preventing brighter but poorer students like me from getting places.
Deputy head, St Peter’s CofE Primary School, Burnham
Striking a happy medium in primary
I found Joe Tyler’s article about happiness in primary education refreshing (bit.ly/PrimaryHappy). There is far too much focus on academic learning from an increasingly early age. In the early years, children should learn social skills and how to look after their wellbeing. Teaching them the foundations of literacy and numeracy is very important, too – but not at the expense of everything else.
I do disagree with on one point, though. In my experience working on the Resilience Wellbeing Success programme in Years 4-6, young children do have dreams and ambitions for the future. We should help them to not only dream big but also plan for ways to make those dreams come true by turning them into goals.
Co-founder, Resilience Wellbeing Success, Doncaster
Offensive comments obscure real issues
Now that Ofsted chair David Hoare has resigned, we can all return to the status quo. All the inequities of funding, training and human resourcing in coastal areas don’t need to be resolved because the man whose poorly judged words have caused offence has been publicly punished.
What we really need is a coastal challenge as well-resourced as the London Challenge. Now that he has time on his hands, couldn’t Mr Hoare set one in motion?
Isle of Wight
Facebook users respond to last week’s feature on beating stress
“Easy on paper, not that easy to actually do.”
“The article should have mentioned laughing. I am sure we will have some giggles.”
“Take yourself to the loo and lean your head against the wall for 10 mins! Can you imagine? Not so sure about that one!”
“Some days I’m lucky to have time for a wee, let alone a nap!”
“What a shame this article has to exist in the first place.”
And to “Let’s focus primary education on the happiness of pupils: not drilling them for university” bit.ly/PrimaryHappy
“In Finnish primary schools, the emphasis is on life skills and supporting diverse talent. Career guidance, grades and future study options are brought when kids are 13.”
“I plan ahead so my daughters can live in the moment!”
“Doesn’t hurt to make it seem normal though.”
From the TES Community forums
Ofsted chair resigns after Isle of Wight “ghetto” and “inbreeding” comments
Gosh, well that’s the right thing to do. I wish him no ill, [but] he made the most misinformed statements that were highly offensive.
Yessssssss! Just goes to show that if we make enough fuss then we don’t have to put up with all the education rubbish directed at us.
It always perplexes me how leaders of an institution that has demoralised teachers – to the point where few would voice an opinion for fear of the sack – somehow don’t see that they, too, must live by the same nonsense.
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