15th January 2016 at 00:00

Sorry, Tom Starkey. As a retired pupil referral unit head, I can’t read your behaviour advice (“Shutting the door before the student has bolted”, Professional, 8 January) and just do my usual Victor Meldrew grunt. I have to reply:

1. I agree that consistent behaviour management is vital.

2. Training in de-escalation is also vital.

3. Never step in the way of a child trying to leave the class – they are in flight mode. I taught numerous young people who were excluded for hitting a teacher in this situation.

4. Make it clear that you will follow up their behaviour with senior leaders and their parents. It doesn’t matter if they don’t hear: the other 29 children will.

5. If they come back quickly, quietly welcome and praise but carry on teaching and discuss at the end of the lesson.

6. Never run after the child. If they are very young instruct a teaching assistant or other member of staff to follow at a safe distance and try to persuade them back.

7. Instruct the office to ring parents immediately.

8. If the incident lasts a long time and/or the child leaves the site, always involve parents and the headteacher in the return to class and calmly discuss the issues.

9. No further punishments should be necessary.

10. Have a clear whole-school policy.

Becky Durston

Barnston, Essex

‘Partisan analysis’ cuts both ways

I was disappointed that while Jonathan Simons noted his opponents’ political affiliations (NUT: “we oppose academy status”; the Local Schools Network: “every school should be accountable to its local community”), TES did not mention that Policy Exchange, where Mr Simons is head of education, has advocated for-profit schools. Nor that the Greenwich Free School, which he co-founded, was rated “requires improvement” by Ofsted in 2014 (Whispers from Westminster, 8 January).

While I am not at all suggesting that Mr Simons’ political and professional affiliations might bias his interpretation of the “logic” of a fully academised system, wouldn’t these contexts help the reader to better appreciate his position as partisan or not? Should we give underperforming free schools to local authorities or high-performing chains? Or should we scrutinise the very “logic” of allowing high levels of experimentation and privatisation in our system of education?

Anurag Jain


The real danger isn’t Steiner ‘dogmas’

You achieve a difficult journalistic feat – covering Steiner education critically but fairly (Insight, 8 January). You rightly question “dogmas” – yet any Steiner dogmas are far less pernicious than the testing dogmas of mainstream schooling. As Rudolf Steiner said in 1919, “The state’s…targets are the worst ones imaginable, yet it expects to get the best possible results.” The main touchstone of Steiner education’s success, though, is the unbridled enthusiasm with which children and parents typically embrace it.

Dr Richard House

Retired university lecturer and Steiner teacher, Stroud

Ungraded observations set us free

I read with interest Dr Matt O’Leary’s article on graded lesson observations (Further, 11 December). We have had a system of ungraded lesson observations for the past six years and have found them to be powerful tools to raise standards. It sends out a message to staff that commenting on what goes in the classroom is not part of some crude performance management regime, but a central plank of a culture that encourages innovation and risk-taking.

Mike Gallagher

Business programme manager, Leyton Sixth Form College

Suited and booted inspectors

So Ofsted needs a more professional dress code (Insight, 8 January). Could I suggest peaked caps for all inspectors coupled with a pair of arm bands embroidered with a large letter “O” in red. Jackboots should be de rigueur but pencil moustaches for male inspectors optional.

Mr Chips

Retired headteacher, Hemington, Derby

Ofsted’s loss is our gain

What a relief. Your editor, Ann Mroz, could never be an inspector. She is obviously not conforming to Ofsted guidance that their inspectors should not wear outsized jewellery. Her picture in her editorial shows her wearing enormous earings. Carry on Ann is all I can say!

John Bangs

Greenwich, London

Facebook users respond to Andrew Carter calling for innovative working practices to alleviate the workload crisis bit.ly/AndrewCarter

“Some jobs have grown in hours to the point where only those prepared to work 60+ hours a week can go for the job. Senior leader roles are such a job. Who would want to be a headteacher?”


“Yes, yes, yes – what a sensible article! I hate the culture of seeing it as a positive thing that everyone goes home with boxes of books and paperwork to complete each night.”


“How many times have I read articles like this over the past 20 years and yet nothing changes? It just seems to get worse. Too much talking, not enough action.”


Twitter users have their say

“I’ve taught in many schools, and planning has always been shared. Why is this seen as a main issue?”


“Teachers ‘innovate’; this is sedition – wash your mouth out.”


From the TES Community forums

Schools shift spending focus away from computing

Could this be because computing is a less expensive subject? A PowerPoint presentation needs hardware and software, whereas you can learn about binary and Boolean logic with a pencil and paper. Also, schools needed to buy textbooks for the new subject last year, but now they’ve got them.

JaquesJaquesLiverot (bit.ly/CompOverRated)

Times table tests at age 11

It’s a fine idea. However, some folk have brains that work differently. They take longer to or can’t remember the number bonds and need to use other ways to work out the table. Punishing teachers is not the way forwards. The consequence will be high stress, communicated despite best intentions to the pupils.

Phlogiston (bit.ly/TableTest)

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