Educating children will never be an easy task. But teaching can be a rewarding and (sometimes) enjoyable job in which the practitioner can take justifiable pride (“There’s no magic formula, just good teachers”, Editorial, 4 December).
As an elected member of the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) in 2000-04 and 2008-12, I was always clear that we should be about making teachers happier in their work; public confidence would follow. It wasn’t easy. The organisation was hamstrung by political bias and the suspicious attitude of many (not all) union reps.
The GTC struggled to win hearts and minds. But by 2010 it was becoming more effective. Teachers – especially younger ones – recognised that it promoted professionalism. Former education secretary Michael Gove’s coup in announcing its closure was just asinine. He imagined it was still Labour-dominated. He thought it would make him popular with the NASUWT, failing to grasp that they are grumpy with everybody. And he thought its functions could be taken over by the Teaching Agency, later merged with the National College for School Leadership to produce the miserable failure you describe.
Teachers in England would be in a better place if they still had the GTC. Fewer would want to leave, and those faced with perpetual criticism from Ofsted – and the permanently cross headmaster who is its public face – would feel happier and more confident than they now do.
Former elected member of the GTC
A childcare quandary
Jonathan Simons is right (Whispers from Westminster, 4 December). Childcare must be “affordable, high quality and [have] sufficient places”. However, to solve this “trilemma”, ministers need to “grapple” with childcare’s greatest challenge – recruiting and retaining staff in a sector that offers skilled and experienced professionals low wages, poor career prospects and dwindling training budgets.
In a recent Voice survey (www.voicetheunion.org.uk/nurserysurvey) 55 per cent of nursery staff who responded were aged between 40 and 60, and the majority of those with high levels of qualifications were in the upper age groups. Childcare could be heading towards a staffing precipice. The government must address sufficiency and quality if its reforms are to succeed. There must be coherent, appropriate and status-raising pay and career structures for childcare professionals.
General secretary, Voice
The fine art of gaming
It was good to see some recognition that video games are not exclusively a negative influence. But as so often, “Untapped potential: the case for gaming” (Professional, 4 December) fails to recognise that video games can also be a form of art. To imagine that popular games like Call of Duty exemplify the genre is similar to assuming that E L James and Michael Bay are representative of the quality of novels and films. The artistic content of video games could effectively supplement teaching. For example, the award-winning game Life is Strange deals with the same themes of growing into adulthood as Catcher in the Rye (the protagonist even shares the surname Caulfield).
Undergraduate and video game fan, Cambridge
Academy drive risks SEND provision
Chancellor George Osborne says: “We will make local authorities running schools a thing of the past” – I’m with the primary headteacher who doesn’t want to be “forced down the academy route” (Leadership, 4 December). As a school governor responsible for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), I worry that we risk losing the economies of scale that the 2014 SEND Code of Practice demands LAs achieve by “involving schools, colleges, health services and others” in developing the “local offer”. Is the government aware of these conflicting edicts?
School governor, Longtown, Herefordshire
In our report on marking concerns in Further last week, we published this statement: “The scripts that did arrive were criticised by teachers in colleges and schools as being poorly and sometimes erratically marked.” We may have given the impression that this related exclusively to concerns about the OCR exam board. In fact it relates to concerns with the entire exam system. We are happy to clarify this point.
Twitter users respond to Ann Mroz’s editorial on Sir Michael Wilshaw bit.ly/MrozWilshaw
“@tes @AnnMroz Totally agree, a good leader should minimise pressure to teachers on the frontline except they pass it on by the bucket-load.”
“Very true. It’s the heads that stay in their rooms and pass on the stress by not being proactive but reactive.”
“Agree. Successful heads walk the corridors, stand together with their staff & know the children they serve.”
Facebook users respond to our profile of Jo Boaler
“Everyone needs the ability to do arithmetic, not everyone needs maths. As far as I am concerned, their amalgamation was the beginning of the dumbing down of maths.” Lin
“I think she is wrong. Not knowing times tables has held back all the 16- to 19-year-olds I teach. Have made a very big effort to teach them this term and the confidence boost it has given them is astounding!” Carey
From the TES Community forums
Why don’t many schools have effective behaviour management policies?
A behaviour management policy is fine and dandy in principle. Where it doesn’t work so well is in practice. Some people find it easy to manage behaviour, some don’t. Add people doing their own thing and senior leaders refusing to engage with it and you have a recipe for chaos.
One reason is not having enough staff to make it work. Our behaviour team is stretched so thin that pupils sometimes slip through the cracks and sanctions aren’t enforced. This isn’t because no one is trying to do anything about it, it’s because everyone is overworked and doesn’t have time to chase things up.
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