1st January 2016 at 00:00

It’s about time parents stood up for teachers. Recently, headlines have highlighted the “extraordinary stress” and “unmanageable workloads” teachers are facing, including one noting that “Human bodies cannot sustain the impact of teaching in its current form” (bit.ly/ImpactOfTeaching).

Teachers are being driven out of the profession in their droves; good, experienced, caring teachers. The ATL teaching union has recently launched a campaign, It’s About Time, to empower teachers to find ways to reduce unnecessary workload. Well, it’s about time parents stood up for teachers, too. As another headline points out: “Getting the best for children is not achieved by stressed teachers working 16-hour days” (bit.ly/GettingTheBest).

Teacher wellbeing is important. It’s important for our children and it’s important to me. And of course, it’s important to teachers, too – they are human, after all!

Teachers nurture, teachers care, teachers encourage, motivate and inspire. This morning, when my daughter woke up, a huge smile beamed across her face and she said, “Mummy, when I grow up, I want to be a teacher.” My heart burst. I’m so happy she feels this way. She has two wonderful teachers, and an equally wonderful teaching assistant. The impact they are having on her life is remarkable, and for this I am truly grateful. This is why teachers matter – you’re inspiring the next generation.

So, as a parent, I want to thank every single teacher out there. Thank you for being there for our children even when the government is increasing pressure, expectations, workload and targets. Keep going, we need you and we appreciate you.

Rosie Dutton


Enlightened thinking on extremism

Claire Fox’s “Don’t just cringe – stand up to jihadi ideas” (Comment, 18/25 December) is an important contribution to the debate on educators’ engagement with the very serious issue of radicalisation. At first glance, the Prevent duty guidance that “schools should be safe spaces in which pupils can understand and discuss sensitive topics, including terrorism and extremist ideas” appears to make possible the conversations Ms Fox advocates. And yet, the duty to report the kind of views that she mentions may do precisely the opposite.

As Bradford Imam Alyas Karmani says: “If we were to say to young people that everything they said to us we would report to the police, how many would speak to us in the first place?”

I fear the new duty will lead to many teachers, who are trying to protect what relationships they have, avoiding these conversations altogether. Perhaps some Enlightenment thinking needs to be applied to the policy itself?

Graeme Tiffany


Why ‘fixed’ funding is a broken idea

While reading “Whispers from Westminster” in last week’s issue, I recalled a comment by the late Ted Wragg (“Wit and wisdom: Ted Wragg remembered”, 18/25 December) during the last Conservative government. He said that the policy was developed by someone producing a pamphlet and someone else then saying “as so and so has shown”, when in fact it was only opinion.

The article by Jonathan Simons about the national funding formula was peppered with phrases such as “overwhelming evidence”, “parade of the usual suspects” and “universal theoretical agreement”.

The core idea is that funding is fixed. However, funding was miraculously found for the SAS and spies, £4 billion I recall, and to stop cuts to the police and tax credits. It is not a lack of economic or financial will preventing bringing poorer areas up to the richest, it is a lack of political will.

I have been reading TES for more than 40 years. Please don’t fall into the trap of presenting political dogma disguised as educational research.

J Pearce

Retired teacher

Testing: the best-case scenario?

As an opponent of over-testing and the preparation involved I wasn’t sure whether I agreed with your report that “UK schools are among the worst in the developed world for ‘teaching to the test’” (Insight, 18/25 December). Are they among “the worst” or are they among “the best”? I suspect the latter!

Professor Colin Richards

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

Twitter users respond to survey findings that most teachers haven’t been trained adequately to help pupils with mental health problems bit.ly/MHproblems

“While I agree [teachers] do need training, why isn’t the blame put with the #government who need to provide #training and #funding for it?”


“Indeed. What about training/support to spot when colleagues aren’t coping??”


“Very little meaningful training available – having to self-educate constantly”


Facebook users respond to a call for teachers to receive a Christmas pay rise bit.ly/XmasPay

“We live in a country rich enough to increase wages for both teachers and NHS staff. But the wealthy tax avoiders greedily hold on to huge profits. Until ordinary people say enough is enough, pay rises will be a thing of the past” John

“Wish some of the MPs would come and do the jobs of teachers, TAs, nurses etc. Bet they would give themselves a pay rise”


From the TES Community forums

Students – independent learners? (bit.ly/MaryBoustedArticle)

Many students have now become reliant on teachers “helping” them because they know that the teacher's job is on the line. This has to stop. In fact some students should be allowed to fail. Failing is in itself a learning process. If the students can't be bothered then why should the teacher?


In order to get 100% of the learners to make 100% progress 100% of the time as required, I have to “sit” on them and make sure they do. Letting them be independent might mean they need to be willing to push themselves. Great for some…not for others. What is best for the children and what management wants doesn't always match.


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