1st April 2016 at 00:00

Professor Bill Boyle and Sean Creaney are right to raise concerns about forced academisation (Letters, 25 March), but some context is needed. Mass academisation is the latest move by the neo-liberal right in its class war to eliminate the (welfare) state as we know it. Michael Gove let the neo-con cat out of the bag in 2013 with a reported secret memo leaked from the Department for Education advocating academies becoming profit-making enterprises.

Mass academisation is an intrinsically ideological issue and not, as supporters claim, an evidential one. Given the variables and unequal playing field between academies and non-academies, it is impossible to reach a conclusion about their relative effectiveness. Such a claim is bogus from a scientific standpoint, and must be exposed as such.

Dr Richard House

Stroud, Gloucestershire

Facilitating subjects are not helpful

I agree with James Kewin’s comments in the article about pupils’ university chances being affected by the postcode lottery (Insight, 25 March). The list of facilitating subjects is damaging, and has the effect of reducing the curriculum in many schools and limiting life chances.

Well-meaning though it may be, the list is selling a lie. Russell Group universities do not prefer or require facilitating subjects. Some departments do, but if you have psychology, art and music at A level, or economics, drama and religious studies, there are plenty of Russell Group courses open to you. The University of Sheffield lists 56 acceptable A-level subjects. The grades are important, not the subjects. Incidentally, most of the universities make it clear that the English Baccalaureate (EBac) is not a requirement either. Usually a C in English and maths will do it. There are many excellent universities outside the Russell Group; these don’t seem to count for the DfE. Pupils should be able to study subjects that interest them and in which they can do best. They will have plenty of options.

Professor Roger Marsh

University of York

Drama teaches valuable skills

I often read and agree with Tom Bennett’s column. However, as a drama teacher I am constantly fighting against the kind of comments he made about drama teaching (Comment, 18 March). We are still fighting for arts to be on the curriculum, so to belittle dramatic techniques as fillers shows real shortsightedness. In my classroom, we use role play to explore difficult issues and to allow students to experience and discuss them. The ability to explore in a safe environment has been powerful tool for many, and statements about it being a filler are damaging.

Lorna Cranwell

Head of Drama, Woodbridge High Scool, East London

Upholding headteacher training

It was illuminating to read about Roland Martin’s Texas adventure (“Headteachers go the distance to boost leadership skills”, Insight, 25 March). That he was one of only 12 heads who has taken advantage of Harvard Graduate school programmes in the past five years was surprising, given the role’s complexity. In the past, this country has invested in ensuring that school leaders receive training. It is now up to individuals to seek out this training, as the National Professional Qualification for Headship is no longer compulsory and the Leadership Programme for Serving Headteachers has disappeared. With resources shrinking, it’s easy to push training down the priority list, but leading in schools is not a job anyone can do without ongoing research and training – despite what our ministers think.

Frederick Sandall

Retired headteacher

Resilience vs buoyancy

In his article on resilience (Feature, 25 March), Marc Smith creates a separation between resilience and academic buoyancy where one doesn’t exist.

As a nurture practitioner with almost 40 years of experience, building resilience is high on my agenda. It is founded on students’ understanding that failures give them opportunities to reflect and achieve at a higher standard, but also that we are there to support them. We successfully address fragility and lack of self-belief.

We provide a key element of their transition to high school, through and beyond key stage 3. Our evidence tells us that we are very successful. What we offer, like many schools, is support for building resilience. Mr Smith can call it academic buoyancy if he wishes. It’s the same thing.

Garry Freeman

Parkcroft, Leeds

Facebook users respond to TES articles about the teacher-union conferences this weekend.

“I’m a parent, not a teacher, but I’m right behind you all. I wish the different sectors would get together and have a general strike.”


“A profession in crisis and talented, dedicated teachers demoralised to the point where they cannot continue. Disgraceful. ”


“Nicky Morgan, I’m all for raising standards, but what you’re doing to our children’s education and mental health is inexcusable.”


When will we get a minister for education who understands education?”


“This country is run by a bunch of ideologues who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”


“DfE isn’t working with teachers, headteachers or parents – or even listening”


“Coordinate with junior doctors? Nothing like a general strike to get the message across.”


From the TES Community forums

Sexting: why should schools sort out the problem?


Any good PSHE curriculum would include internet safety, and warnings about sexting should be part of that. If it is happening in school, schools should act. Otherwise it is up to the parents.


Sometimes it is difficult for parents to warn children and schools have a responsibility to ensure children know of the dangers, but I do agree the primary responsibility is parental.


We’ve had serious issues with bullying on social media. It is the parents’ responsibility, but we have to deal with the repercussions. They are not allowed phones at school.


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