15th July 2016 at 00:00

As headteachers, we write this open letter to start a wider debate about investment in public education. We want to speak up about inadequate funding levels and the link between this and quality of education for young people.

Where schools are underfunded, we as heads are forced to leave vacancies unfilled, to increase class sizes and to strip out creative and vocational courses and vital enrichment activities. As the funding crisis deepens, we face the prospect of dismissing teaching assistants and teachers.

MPs need to understand that the government’s so-called “fair” funding proposals will simply redistribute insufficient resources around the system. Thousands of schools will be even worse off and inflation will wipe out modest funding increases for others.

We urge everyone to email their MP about the funding pressures in their school. The teaching profession must act with one voice to secure the future of education. Email your MP at teachers.org.uk/email-your-mp/4

The signatories are 50 headteachers, including Vic Goddard, principal of Passmores Academy in Essex, and Stephen Tierney, executive director of the Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi Academy Trust in Blackpool. For the full list, see bit.ly/FundingLetter

Wouldn’t it be Nice to trust in evidence?

Classroom practitioners should not have been surprised to read about the latest pedagogical quackery in TES (“Why early years children are hitting the dough gym”, 8 July). The notion that most children need to build up their muscles in order to hold a pencil will have left many thinking that 1 April must have been moved to July.

There is no independent expert review mechanism in the UK to protect teachers from the snake oil that threatens to sap school budgets. Teachers need an equivalent to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), with research and evidence-based guidance, if our understanding of learning is to be truly enhanced.

Neil Roskilly

Chief executive, Independent Schools Association

Equality trumps inconvenience

It is very surprising that Tom Richmond should criticise the introduction of new GCSE grades without mentioning the underlying reason for the change (“Will new GCSE grades be popular? The odds are 9-1”, Comment, 8 July).

It is an integral aspect of two policies set out in the foreword to the 2010 White Paper, which have cross-party support: to raise attainment to the level of higher-achieving jurisdictions and to reduce the “tail” of students leaving education with poor qualifications or none.

Moving to numerical grades enables Progress 8, which will require schools to make greater efforts with students currently attaining grades D-G (new grades 3-1) because they will count towards the value-added measure. This move to greater equity far outweighs unfamiliarity with the new grades, which will be forgotten in a few years.

Laurie Smith

Let’s Think in English, King’s College London

Academisation: the real motive

The government has two distinct policies for England’s schools: the first relates to improving outcomes. Ministers enjoy arguments about whether academies perform better than local authority schools (“Rankings prompt calls for end to academisation race”, Insight, 8 July) because that diverts attention from the second.

This stems from a belief that government is better at managing schools than locally elected people. It therefore requires all schools to become academies, with trustees appointed by and dependent on the education secretary.

Once all schools have been nationalised as academies, they can easily be privatised. A concerted effort might prevent this. Perhaps Parliament might object. It would have to notice what was happening first. How likely is that?

Sir Peter Newsam

Pickering, Yorkshire

Our ageist culture benefits no one

“Go the extra mile for experienced teachers” (Professional, 8 July) addresses many issues about those who choose to remain in the classroom rather than entering leadership.

Ageism prevails, and many experienced teachers, including me, have been let go or can find only temporary roles. To fully benefit students and, ultimately, the economy, schools, teachers, unions and the government need to collaborate so that the skills of all teachers, whatever their level of experience, are effectively utilised.

Harriet Carter

South Wales

Facebook users on heads calling for an NHS-style fee cap for supply agencies bit.ly/FeeCap

“How can they rein in agencies? I have been working on and off through an agency and have not had a pay rise in seven years.”


“I work in a supply basis at a school I have previously worked at. Great for school cos they don’t pay agency fee and great for me cos I don’t either.”


“When did NQTs start using agencies? Do they promote at college? They wanted to charge us a 20% salary finder’s fee…Over £2,000!”


“How about schools taking on self-employed supply teachers to cut agency costs?”


And on the NUT calling for Nicky Morgan to resign over Sats results


“Here’s a novel idea…Put someone with actual teaching experience in charge of education!”


“What if they agree with Nicky Morgan? Years of teaching experience doesn’t make a person kind and caring. ”


From the TES Community forums

The NUT strike


So, after a day of minimal disruption and minimal publicity (the strike wasn’t even mentioned on the 10pm news), does anyone think it achieved anything?


The problem is that strikes are ineffective, divisive, outdated. The issues get clouded and can be misrepresented as teachers only after more money and being greedy.


Well I thought it was worth it. [NUT general secretary] Kevin Courtney on BBC Breakfast putting the case well. Nicky Morgan giving a poor showing. Parents have asked why the strike is happening so spreads the word.


Join the forums at community.tes.com

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