25th September 2015 at 01:00

To achieve equality, we must all open our eyes

I was disappointed that in the article “Why it’s not childcare that holds women back” (Comment, 18 September) there was no acknowledgement of the argument that some women leaders may experience discrimination.

Although it is interesting to consider the notion that a woman’s mindset, rather than her desire to spend more time with family, might dissuade her from becoming a school leader, is it not also possible that other people’s mindsets, rather than her own, are holding her back?

It is very difficult for all parents, not just mothers, to balance the demands of running a family with those of running a school. But it is important that all leaders know it is possible to succeed at home and as a headteacher, regardless of gender.

Stuart Dyer


Imagery can strangle an important message

For the most part, the focus on women in leadership in last week’s issue was informative, sensitive and insightful. However, one image stuck out for me, of a woman strangling two men with their ties (“Giving women a head start”, Feature, 18 September). This went against the grain of what was otherwise an excellent piece.

If we reversed the gender roles, that image would be considered abusive and completely unacceptable. Sexism works both ways and pictures such as this promote a very negative view of female leadership. Equality shouldn’t be achieved by trampling on male colleagues, rather by working with everyone to promote respect, regardless of gender.

Esther Harding

Digital publishing and education specialist

Is Labour’s new direction a retrograde step?

Lucy Powell has clearly taken the lead from Jeremy Corbyn in accelerating with energy but in reverse gear. Going by your article “All schools must be under local authority control, argues Labour”, the shadow education secretary shows scant understanding of how free schools and academies work.

In Blackburn, we are fortunate in having a diversity of school types and an excellent local authority that warmly supports all of them in areas including admissions and safeguarding. I do hope Ms Powell will reflect on why so many headteachers and governing bodies have taken advantage of the independence offered by the academy/free-school route in order to run their schools more efficiently.

Then perhaps she will be tempted to think outside the constraints of (mercifully) outdated ideology.

Simon Corns

Headteacher, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Blackburn

Lucy Powell’s plan to bring all academies and free schools back into local authority or mayoral control is a terrible idea, and just the sort of retrograde step – along with higher taxes and renationalisation – that will scare away voters and make Labour unelectable. The last thing teachers need after years of revolution is yet more radical change that will sap morale and destabilise the education of our children yet again.

Stan Labovitch

Windsor, Berkshire

Why academisation means privatisation

Your article “What will the new Education Bill mean for you?” (18 September) asks whether forcing “underperforming” schools to become contracted to the education secretary as academies is a good idea. It suggests that ministers want this “because they believe it is easier to intervene in such schools”.

That is not their reason. I believe the reason why prime minister David Cameron wants all schools, underperforming or not, to become academies is to privatise them.

It is not teachers, parents or even Parliament who will decide how children in England’s schools are educated: it will be the education secretary. An individual government minister, exercising control through hundreds of contracts with unelected agencies, will determine how children are taught.

Sir Peter Newsam

Thornton Dale, North Yorkshire

In praise of community learning

Stephen Exley makes an excellent case for the importance of adult and community learning (“Get ready to fight”, Further, 18 September). To that, I would like to add the positive impact it has on families. Improving parents’ literacy and numeracy, for example, means they can support their own children’s learning and educational attainment.

Further education’s key role in enhancing the lives of families has been overlooked for too long. I urge the government to ensure that FE’s funding is prioritised and protected.

Deborah Lawson

General secretary, Voice

There are no negatives to being positive

How easy it would have been for Sir Michael Wilshaw and TES to shine a bright light for readers. “Teaching in KS3 is not good enough, Wilshaw says” (News at a glance, 11 September) could so easily have been presented as “80 per cent of KS3 teaching is good or better”. We could then have been set the challenge of raising our game so that all learners are exposed to good or better teaching. At the start of the new academic year and a new Ofsted regime, positivity would have been more powerful.

Negativity has a high cost. The education community is fully aware of the need to do its very best for every learner every day. The headlines impact not only on educators but also on the most important stakeholders: the pupils.

Initial teacher education lecturer

South East of England

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