4th December 2015 at 00:00

After reading “Too many teachers are missing in action” (Editorial, 27 November), I would like to tell my story. I am a 45-year-old single mum. I volunteered at my daughters’ school a few years ago and decided to embark on a PGCE course in primary teaching.

To be honest, I really struggled. I was one of the oldest members of the class, and family demands meant I was working every weekend and every night until midnight. I felt I wasn’t giving my best to the children I was teaching or my own children. I did not complete the course. Instead, I went back to my original career, which enables me to support my children while having a life!

I realise that the PGCE is a very intensive course and is not for everyone. However, it needs to be more attractive for career changers. We need to encourage people to come into teaching and to look at the support available for more mature students. In my opinion, the teacher training strategy needs a fundamental overhaul.

Name and address supplied

“Too many teachers are missing in action” makes a good stab at summarising the stories behind the figures relating to teacher shortages. I would, however, take you up on one point. You say that many teachers may have been “lured abroad by sunshine” (true) and “big salaries” (not true). It is important to dispel the myth that teachers are better paid overseas. They tend to save more, but this is either because the cost of living is low or there are fewer taxes or there is little to spend their salaries on.

David Rowlands

Lydbrook, Gloucestershire

Change is needed from within

A few thoughts struck me when reading the article on R&R last week – that is, teacher recruitment and retention, not the leisurely kind. There’s nothing restful about contemplating the state of the teacher workforce (“Going, going, gone, Feature, 27 November). What niggles me is the way serving teachers actively discourage newcomers and criticise without an eye to the inevitable consequences. It’s up to teachers to change things from within, enhance our professional reputation and support new recruits without whom all our lives would become much more difficult.

Lisa Pettifer

Head of CPD, the Nelson Thomlinson School

Adapting the words of Pete Seeger: “Where have all the teachers gone? Short time passing.” Presumably, not to young girls nor to soldiers nor, hopefully, to graveyards every one. But perhaps to less stressful and overloaded occupations where they are not blamed for the ills of society, castigated as “enemies of promise” and branded as having “soft expectations” and “low standards”. Politicians of all parties have much to answer for in this regard. The danger is that they will get the teaching force they deserve.

Colin Richards

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

Students are more than data points

Having been involved in the reform and development of the curriculum in England and Wales, I need to express my concern at the current situation in schools, which is being driven by a misguided notion of “learner” as “data point”.

I’ve worked alongside agencies on initiatives to monitor and improve teaching and learning. The aim was always to develop systems of assessment that enabled teaching to be adjusted for more effective learning. I’ve also worked with policymakers and educators internationally.

My concern is therefore grounded in long experience and based on the expectation that all children have potential and it is the role of the education system to serve the development of that potential rather than compress it within a minimum competency form of measurement.

Professor Bill Boyle

Director, the Evaluation Business

How to think, not what to learn

In response to Professor Sugata Mitra’s article “Knowing stuff? No, thanks. That’s so last century” (Comment, 20 November), good education should be about not simply passing on knowledge but teaching children how to think.

For example, solving mathematical problems trains the mind in logical thinking. It also gets students into the habit of problem-solving and rising to an intellectual challenge. I don’t see how this can be done without a teacher’s help.

Shouvik Datta

Orpington, Kent

Twitter users respond to our feature on teacher shortages

“Powerful front page & huge challenge – hope policymakers are listening”


“Some of us are gone due to the education system’s ideological commitment to progressive methods over good teaching”


“They’ve all left the UK, like me, who recognised v early on in my career that the system is not designed to enable young people”


“When will they ever learn? Look what they do to trainees – crush their spirit by unreasonable workload and paper chasing!!”


Facebook users have their say

“We are buried in paperwork!”


“I moved to Spain to get away from the British system” Claire

“I truly loved being a teacher but the constant changes, hypocrisy and all the responsibility placed on the teacher drove me mad. I didn’t realise how stressful the job was until I retired”


From the TES Community forums

Why young teachers are leaving the profession

Workload is a factor, but when I was an NQT I was young and single and late nights bothered me less. Since then, workload has exploded. But it’s also largely labour created by out of control senior leaders trying to cover their backs in a climate of fear created by academies and Ofsted.

JaquesJaquesLiverot (bit.ly/YoungTeach)

LA secondary schools abolished by Osborne

A TV roundup of the Autumn Statement included the astonishing news that LAs will no longer be in charge of any secondaries. That was sneaky. As an academy through choice, with a large deficit, that will be the way to cut the cost of state education, save for free schools.

Emerald52 (bit.ly/LAschool)

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