20th May 2016 at 00:00

There has been no U-turn on academising all schools (Whispers from Westminster, 13 May). That is still intended. Depending on the result of the general election, and on any necessary legislation to enforce this, the date for complete academisation may still be 2022 or soon afterwards.

“Academisation” is, of course, another word for “nationalisation”: a system under which all schools are directly contracted, through government-appointed trustees, to a government minister and then dependent on annual funding from that minister. Presumably, at some point the electorate will be asked whether it thinks this is a good idea. No other country in Europe does.

Sir Peter Newsam

Thornton Dale, North Yorkshire

Let’s put our leaders to the test

The recent events in relation to the academies programme and the spelling, punctuation and grammar tests are a wasteful distraction and a national disgrace. Since the international Pisa tests are readily given as grounds for so much of the attention paid to the profession, shouldn’t a comparative study of the quality of national leadership between this country and the top-performing jurisdictions be established? This would counter the narrow scope of current government thinking about those test results.

Christopher Tay,

Headteacher, Longden CE Primary School, Shropshire

Syntax evasion

Given the stress on pupils and staff alike caused by government-imposed Spag tests in primary schools, and the consequent cancellations, are we now witnessing the unacceptable face of Capitalisation, to paraphrase a former prime minister?

Barrie Kemp

Freelance teacher

Finding SEND solutions together

The views of Nancy Gedge (“You can’t busk it when it comes to SEND”, Professional, 13 May) have resonance, and represent a high degree of concern around delivering quality teaching and positive learning experiences.

There is a solution to her conundrums: partnerships, collaboration and cooperation between educational phases and sectors.

Indeed, if statutory services worked with independent and charitable organisations to deliver holistic approaches, great progress could be achieved. Joint planning and training, work shadowing, and peer observations are just a few routes to ensuring directed and focused learning. Special schools have a significant role in enhancing learning and are central resource bases for mainstream teachers supporting this vulnerable group of pupils. Working together is a powerful way forward.

Dr Len Parkyn

Independent consultant, St Johns School and College

It’s time for a game of Heads or Fails

Let’s not waste the recent series of cock-ups and U-turns but bring them together in a TV talent show.

In “Heads or Fails”, wannabees with no teaching experience will compete to be headteachers. They will perform on rugs so that anyone displaying talent can have it pulled from underneath them, with hilarious results.

They will demonstrate PowerPoint and “learning walks”, and will be assessed by cash-strapped students just like our pupils. If the “wrong” people appear to be winning, rules can be changed or introduced at the whim of “the banker” to put them firmly back in their place – much to the crowd’s delight.

The results will bear no relation to the public vote and will be leaked rather than announced. Past contestants will mock participants, saying that it was much harder in previous years. But is it a talent contest or reality TV?

Science teacher, Leicestershire

Adopting new approaches to wellbeing

“Teachers aren’t trained to understand adopted pupils” (Insight, 1 April) highlights serious deficiencies in teacher training around developing self-awareness and compassion. Last year I was teaching a looked-after boy who was very bright but had complex issues. I suggested to the manager of my subject area that we should work out some strategies to help him. But they were only interested in his GCSE result and that was the end of the discussion.

As a teacher, you can be as caring as you like but we are up against it a lot of the time and so are the kids. I am now a coach and my book on mindful leadership is coming out in July. I’m doing what I can to redress the balance.

Helen Pengelly

Founder of Happy Teachers, West Sussex

Facebook users respond to “Why do teachers use classroom techniques they don’t believe in?” bit.ly/MichaelTidd

“Rebellion doesn’t go down well. No matter how much sense you’re making, you get a black mark against your name for speaking up.”


“You can’t change anything as a teacher. Only the head can do that.”


“Ofsted check if you carry out school policies. This means doing techniques they tell you to.”


“I would be proud to be deemed ‘requires improvement’ if it meant I was delivering a curriculum to my children that actually met their learning needs.”


And to “Telling teachers what not to do can have a positive impact” bit.ly/NotToDo

“If a person needs to be told how to behave, should they really be in this profession?”


“If teachers are confident that they operate in an exemplary manner then they should have no problem with the measures.”


From the TES Community forums

Teacher shortages loom in almost all secondary subjects


How long have the unions and other bodies been telling the government this?


I visit a lot of schools and they tell me their departments are staffed by unqualified, overseas supply and then a core of qualified “quality” teachers. If you were to ask “Should there be no impact on your budget and should they be available for you to hire, how many of your ‘unqualified’ or overseas teachers would you replace with qualified teachers?”, the answer would show the crisis is 20 times worse.


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