24th June 2016 at 00:00

Amid all the sound and fury of the EU referendum debate, I have heard very little mention of the EU’s education programmes for schools and colleges, which – in my opinion – are one of the EU’s unsung success stories.

Successive initiatives such as Socrates, the Lifelong Learning Programme and the Erasmus+ programme have enabled young people, many from deprived backgrounds, to learn new skills, enjoy life-changing cultural experiences and to work together in an international context.

The programmes have provided valuable professional development opportunities for teachers and lecturers. It would be a tragedy if an ill-judged Brexit might deny British youngsters the chance of participating in these EU education programmes, thereby potentially disadvantaging them in the international employment market.

John Fagan

Clitheroe, Lancashire

Teacher shortage is ministers’ fault

The shortage of teachers is largely due to a lack of joined-up thinking on the part of government. Two examples:

1) The Home Office’s recent decision to terminate non-EU overseas teachers’ employment after six years. I suspect neither the Home Office nor the Department for Education knows how many teachers will be affected.

2) This year, the DfE dispensed with regional quotas for primary teacher training, replacing them with a single, national quota. So what happens? Popular colleges in populated areas fill their lists and more: so the new national quota is quickly reached, leaving courses in less popular regions undersubscribed – thus exacerbating the regional disparities in teacher supply.

David Rowlands

Retired headteacher, Lydbrook, Gloucestershire

The delights of different cultures

Tom Bennett argues that supplementary schools are “a boutique service for a demographic that is happy to make it happen for and by themselves” (“The hidden cogs in the schools system?”, 17 June). In the British Bengali community, we have long fostered an awareness of Bengali culture, principally through studying the Nobel Literature laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

However, we have also always tried to attract a wider interest in Tagore, Satyajit Ray and other figures of Bengali culture, among the British and other nationalities.

I spent some months working in Bielsko-Biala in Poland as a qualified Esol teacher. Back in the UK, I still follow news from Poland, and I like to hear the poetry of Wisława Szymborska on BBC Radio 4. Surely Polish culture should reach a wider audience and not just be reserved for Poles?

Shouvik Datta

Gaps in mainstream schools

Tom Bennett’s otherwise excellent article about supplementary schools (“The hidden cogs in the schools system?”, 17 June) fails to make three points.

The reason that many of us are motivated to run supplementary schools and other out-of-school-hours activities is to make up for the deficiencies in mainstream education resulting from bad government policies. This is particularly the case with the creative arts subjects.

Secondly, although mainstream schools can provide free accommodation, the costs of additional caretaking, cleaning and security fall on the supplementary school. There is no such thing as a free school. And, thirdly, government regulation is not necessary when our insurers require us to have robust health and safety and safeguarding procedures.

David Baker

Director, Design Education CIC

The fight for inclusion

I would like to answer some of Sarah Simons’ questions in her – at best naive and, at worst intolerant – article “Tough choices on autism” (Further, 17 June).

With over 31 years of working in this field, I have personally witnessed far too many traumatic situations where educational environments have been neither autism-friendly nor tolerant.

So, yes, she should “allow” a student with an autism spectrum condition to remain in the same seat. She should “allow” a student to remain in her coat. All challenges need to be staged, measured and gradual, and within the students’ capabilities at that time. If not, then they will not be able to attend at all, mental health will decline and the family unit will be compromised. We do not need to accept this less inclusive world. We need to change it.

Debbie Maher

Teacher, Derbyshire

Facebook users on a TES poll showing 70 per cent of teachers want to stay in the EU


“I can’t believe that 30% of teachers actually agree with Michael Gove?!?”


“Well, stats show the better educated you are, the more likely you are to vote in!”


“Because we NEED Europe – imagine if everything was up to the Tories!”


“If we stay in Europe we will lose our democracy.”


“I’m surprised that it’s not the other way around.”


And on one deputy head’s claim that schools don’t do enough to smooth transition to secondary

bit.ly/SchoolTransit “Totally disagree! This article tarnishes all secondaries with the same brush when many of us take transition extremely seriously.”


“As a Year 6 teacher, I couldn’t agree more with the need for a better system for transition. I feel so sad when I hear stories about my past children in Year 7.”


From the TES Community forums

Vast majority of academy chains ‘mediocre’, says Wilshaw, condemning ‘Walmart-style empire-building’


Well, MAT’s aren’t all they are cracked up to be… I’m appalled – if he knew most MATs were this awful, why didn’t he create a fuss before?


So, finally an admission the academy programme is not a fix-all...yet the government continues to ignore the facts and drive all schools to be academies.


We’ve had 20-plus years of poor leadership. Now we have academies answerable to no one, and so-called chief executives on £200k-plus who never see a child.


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