3rd June 2016 at 00:00

“Half of schools cut jobs as budgets hit ‘breaking point’ ” certainly resonated with me (Insight, 27 May). Although savings have to be made, it seems that experienced teachers are let go because we are too expensive.

Many, like myself, can – at reduced pay and often with no pension – get supply work if they are prepared to travel. However, any permanent contract is offered to cheaper alternatives. This is demoralising and discriminatory.

We need to value experience and competence, as well as encouraging new entrants to teaching. Experienced staff are an educational investment, so please stop just appointing the cheapest person and look at the merits of all candidates. We are encouraged to change the mindsets of students to improve outcomes. The same needs to happen regarding the employment of experienced teachers.

Harriet Carter

South Wales

Education has come to pretty pass

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has described our education system as “pretty ordinary” (“Ofsted’s maverick has been a top gun leader”, Editorial, 27 May). This is quite close to being “pretty satisfactory”. So, in his own view, schools haven’t progressed much under his maverick regime. That’s not necessarily a major criticism unless you are a firm believer in sustained and heroic transformative leadership – which I am not.

Colin Richards

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

Will somebody think of the children?

In an online article (bit.ly/FurediArticle), Frank Furedi contends that The Children’s Society’s Good Childhood Report, and the survey questions on which it is based, say “more about the concerns of its authors than about how children feel about their life”. He couldn’t be more wrong.

The topics contained in The Children’s Society’s wellbeing surveys are based on what children say in their own words is most important in their lives. The analysis of children’s responses to questions has provided the framework for all subsequent research. This invariably addresses relationships with friends, family and teachers.

Furedi argues that self-reporting by children is “unreliable”. But how can we understand whether children feel happy with their lives without asking them? It is a dangerous assumption to suggest that personal thoughts and feelings can only be discerned by an objective methodology.

Listening to what children say is crucial, but often ignored. The alternative – saying it doesn’t matter what young people tell us they feel about their lives – is morally questionable.

Matthew Reed

Chief executive, The Children’s Society

Give bright pupils the chance to shine

Regarding your feature on Progress 8 (20 May), the concern about many schools is their lack of awareness of the different teacher skills – and often different types of teachers – needed for lower-ability versus higher-ability pupils.

In my experience as a maths teacher, schools with predominantly lower-ability intakes tend to attract teachers used to a slower, more pedantic style, which may work for low-ability pupils but not for those of high ability, who require a more rapid-moving and challenging style.

In fact, high-ability pupils in a largely lower-ability school can be neglected in favour of C-D borderline pupils, thanks to the attitude that they are able to teach themselves.

As a strong supporter of the need to develop all pupils to the extent of their abilities, I am hoping that Progress 8 will at last give those of higher ability the focus they deserve, irrespective of a school’s overall level of intake.

Richard Lewis

Maths teacher

Bashing heads over work-life balance

Does “Heads ‘fail to take the lead on a good work-life balance’ ” (Insight, 20 May) purposely not refer to the reasons why headteachers have such a poor work-life balance?

It seems misleading to lecture heads about avoiding a “hero” complex without acknowledging that the most likely cause of this is not, funnily enough, a desire for martyrdom or to save the day. There just isn’t enough manpower to do all that the Department for Education demands.

Yes, we love our job, openly so. But we have to push away the voice saying: “I wish I could have more time with my family, more time to sleep, more time to find peace.”

So please don’t suggest that we are damaging views of the profession. That is insulting at the very least.

Name and address supplied

Facebook respond to the experts’ verdict on this year’s Sats bit.ly/VerdictSats

“I expect now my son has sat [the Year 6 Sats], they will then scrap them for next year, making him a guinea pig and feel rubbish about himself.”


“I wonder why our mental health services are straining under the weight of childhood referrals? Too much stress at such a young age, and not fair on the teachers either!”


“My son found some of it easy but the reading and one of the maths papers hard. He was quite calm but has gone off maths as a result. His favourite subject!”


“I work with children whose anxiety and mental health is affected by this constant pressure.”


“Some GCSE questions are at KS2 level too – both tests need to cater for a range of abilities.”


“I’ve decided that my youngest isn’t doing any tests in school ever. She is 5 and already feels ‘I can’t read’. There isn’t any point in stressing her this young.”


From the TES Community forums

Leaders modelling an unhealthy work-life balance


I watch NQTs come in full of high spirits and confidence and watch them being broken and remodelled into 24/7 workaholics


Why the hell are people sending work emails at 11.30pm? What insanity is driving them?


The truth is that it’s been getting gradually worse over the years and accelerating in the last 15 years.


I really love teaching but it is just a job at the end of the day and not worth losing your life and identity to! The profession needs to get of the martyrdom/workaholic vein.


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