18th December 2015 at 00:00

While I don’t disagree with David Laws’ assertion that the performance of London schools “could easily be knocked back by having very big cuts in their budgets”, they’ve had an advantage for years, allowing them to fund dramatic improvement (“ ‘Very big risks’ in academies expansion, ex-minister warns”, Insight, 11 December).

As head of a school in the lowest-funded county in the UK, we would receive an additional £1.65 million per year in pupil-led funding (enough for 65 teachers) if we were in an “averagely funded” London borough. I think I could improve standards even further with that level of resource.

John Gadd

Junior school headteacher, West Sussex

Specialisms needn’t be either/or

In an otherwise well-argued, persuasive and engaging article, Sinéad Gaffney is in danger of perpetuating the either/or thinking that so often bedevils education (“In defence of primary teaching”, Feature, 11 December). It’s not necessarily a choice between a subject specialism or a specialism in primary teaching. Why can’t some teachers of primary-aged children teach the whole curriculum while others are fully fledged subject specialists and the rest are somewhere in between? Surely it all depends on context, which includes the skills and understanding that teachers have, their personal preferences but also the values of the school and the needs of its pupils.

Colin Richards

Former primary specialist HMI, Spark Bridge, Cumbria

Reflection is a valuable tool for self-improvement and is under-used in education. Instead of leaping to defend the profession against any criticism whatsoever, colleagues could take a moment to consider the comments. There are many in our profession who are there because they found their degree did not fit them for much and a PGCE is a quick route to a relatively decently paid job. Those teachers are going to be less knowledgeable in both subject content and pedagogy. This is a problem if it is not addressed. The idea that a PGCE alone is enough is certainly an obstacle to becoming a skilled practitioner. As the requirements for entering initial teacher training have been reduced to attract numbers, it has become a job for technicians rather than a profession for people who study, learn, reflect, evaluate, modify and teach. Why would we need subject knowledge?

Louise Knight


Champion university access

We agree with Sir Peter Lampl that one of the ways to improve social mobility is to “attract and develop the best teachers” (bit.ly/SocialMobilityProspects). At the current rate, by 2020 the most advantaged children will be twice as likely to go to university as their disadvantaged peers. This is why it is so important to have teachers actively championing university access. Researchers in Schools (www.researchersinschools.org) is a teacher training programme for PhD graduates, which places trainees in state schools to increase specialist subject knowledge and help pupils apply to highly selective universities.

Jed Cinnamon

National Programme Director, Researchers in Schools

When is ‘adequate’ not enough?

After Prime Minister’s Questions this week, the chancellor’s performance was rated by The Daily Politics pundits as “all right” and “adequate”. If he were a school, would he be due to be placed in special measures as “coasting”?

Tony Mills


Misguided system is ‘choking’ learning

Anybody who is working in the schools sector should be appalled. Why? Because we have allowed another year to go by in which our misguided “measurement” system is choking teaching strategies and pupil growth and voice.

A minimal critical lens applied when visiting 99 per cent of classrooms indicates that a model of coaching (not teaching) is compressing learning. Teaching and learning should rely on the sensitive use of assessment to support pupils towards becoming self-regulated, autonomous learners – the current, politically dominated process uses assessment as a hammer to force pupils and schools into a sadly reduced state of compliance.

Professor Bill Boyle

Tarporley, Cheshire

Facebook users respond to the news that most teachers are still waiting to hear about this year’s pay rise


“We never get a pay rise. There’s talk, hopes get raised and then we are told again: ‘Work harder and sorry no pay rise.’ ”


“Haven’t had a rise for over five years! In the real world there are those who get enormous bonuses and pat on the back for getting the country into an economic mess! Wonders will never cease.”


Twitter users have their say

“Tory spite towards public sector knows no bounds”


“Careful, this tone of alarmist language will put anyone off applying”


“The end of national pay scales. Schools will go the way of FE”


Ann Mroz’s editorial on respect for primaries

“Well said @AnnMroz V encouraging article in @tes Primary has got it right”


From the TES Community forums

Performance-related pay in ‘chaos’ (bit.ly/PRPchaos)

We had the 1 per cent in September. However, I have yet to hear about any other rise related to PRP. We have had no performance management this term, just weeks of learning walks and observations to suit the DfE and our academy sponsor. They are happy to check up on us when it suits them. God forbid we’d be eligible for a pay rise. I am leaving in five days and I cannot wait.


No teachers were given a 1 per cent pay rise at my school, nobody has moved up the pay spine. On the bright side, the head saved enough money to hire ANOTHER non-teaching assistant head! Every cloud and all that…


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