1st July 2016 at 00:00

Pavel isn’t his real name, but he is nonetheless a real student at my school. Engaging, bright and carrying the confidence of a child who is loved by his family. On Friday, he asked me a sobering question: “Sir, will they send me home?”

Still bleary eyed from my 4am alarm and reeling from the tsunami of political metaphor crashing on to the beaches of the nation’s collective consciousness – “seismic shift”, “game-changer”, “new Britain” – it took me a few moments to reclothe myself in the self-assured garb of the headteacher. “Of course not, Pavel. No one would dare do that to you!” He smiled, less than convinced.

We will do well during the coming weeks of uncertainty to remember the potential fallout – the unintended consequences of this referendum and what led to it. As our history has taught us, the quickest way to dehumanise someone is to “other” them. To emphasise their difference. To disentitle them. To defriend them.

It is surely incumbent on all people of good faith – whatever their politics – to drive out any xenophobia from our democratic decision. After a bruising period of aggressive electioneering and a deeply divisive result, let us hope that we don’t allow a deficit of kindness to ossify our debate and lead to a toxic culture. The world is watching. Our children are watching. Pavel is watching.

Simon Uttley

Headteacher, London

Dear Michael Gove, thank you for adding yet another layer of challenge on to the already difficult job of teaching languages at a state secondary.

Not only have your education reforms resulted in new qualifications that are inaccessible to all but the most able, but you have also contrived to give every student a reason for not doing a language at all. On Friday I was greeted by: “We don’t have to learn German any more. We’re not in Europe!”

At the same time, my sixth-form class were angry and wanted me to explain what the hell had happened. It was the closest I have come to crying in front of a class in 24 years of teaching. In my small way, I am determined to go on promoting the values that will equip our young people to reject the xenophobia and bigotry perpetrated in your Brexit campaign.

Scott Rockingham

Head of modern languages, Northamptonshire

I am the headteacher of a primary school in the North of England. I am intensely proud of our school, which is a culturally diverse, harmonious, caring and inclusive community. Like all schools, we are expected to promote so-called British values. Until now, I have believed that our own core values and our school ethos matched these.

After the EU referendum I was appalled to discover that several children had been heard talking about a mixed-race pupil and saying: “This means that he will have to leave our country and go back where he came from.”

These pupils are old enough to understand that significant events are unfolding, and old enough to be influenced by the tone of the debate, but not old enough to see when this is based on prejudice, ignorance or misinformation.

Am I right to feel concerned for the future not just of my school, but of our country? Can we expect that when Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage occupy positions of even greater political influence in the future, schools will be issued with a new set of “British values” that I will no longer feel able to promote?

Name and address supplied

Sorting neuromyths from neurofacts

Understanding that the brain is like a muscle encourages children to value effort and practice. It’s the best teaching tool that I know. This simple concept is what schools are paying attention to, not the “neuromyths” (“The false promise of neuroeducation”, Feature, 24 June).

At my school, we teach children as young as Reception age that to strengthen our brains, we must work hard and practise. It’s part of the culture. I have used research from Make it Stick: the science of successful learning to give older students brain-based revision strategies that work.

Instead of focusing on “neuroeducation’s woolly promises”, flip to the article about ClassDojo (“The app vying for a black belt in class management”, Insight). This is an invaluable resource for any teacher who wants to use neuroscience and growth mindset to help children learn to bounce back from mistakes and understand that everyone can get smarter. It’s research-based, and kids love it.

Tricia Taylor

Lead practitioner at Dunraven School in London, and director, TailoredPractice

Facebook users on “Why the ban on watching Euro 2016 at school was an own goal”


“The world doesn’t stop because the football’s on. As important a life lesson as any other.”


“Not banned at my school. We put it on in the hall on the giant screen and have a great time with giant footballs and flags!”


“Why is it just football? Why can’t we watch the tennis or Olympics or Rugby? Where do we draw the line?”


“We watched it, parents complained!”


And on “Ensuring a good Reception at school for summer-born children” bit.ly/BornSummer

“I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve thought: ‘If only this child could have started next year’. ”


“Problem is, the way it works at the moment at some point they have to rejoin their correct year.”


“How stupid we are to educate children in batches.”


From the TES Community forums

Teaching the perfect lesson


How do we define the perfect lesson? Even Ofsted can’t define that. Hence the succession of hoops we’ve had to jump through.


Being a perfectionist as a teacher will likely be quite damaging to your mental health. Why place such unnecessary and extreme pressures on yourself? There is enough of that from elsewhere.


Perfect lessons do not exist and nor do perfect teachers. Individual lessons should not be judged. Some of the best teaching I’ve done has been on the back of a lesson where it went wrong and I had to change what I was doing.


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