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Top public schools claim state staff fail to inspire

Top independent school heads have damned the state sector for producing teachers who have "formulaic" classroom methods and are uncomfortable teaching "off piste".

The state system produces teachers obsessed with targets and Ofsted ratings who struggle to go beyond the syllabus to bring imagination and creativity to lessons, they warned.

The comments came with the publication of a report examining how the curriculum and assessment are affecting education in independent schools. The study, commissioned by the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), also expressed concern that state school teachers moving to the private sector were "less keen" on leading extra curricular activities, particularly sport at the weekend.

Bernard Trafford, headmaster of Newcastle Royal Grammar School and a former chairman of the HMC, said young teachers were generally highly technically proficient. He said: "This system has delivered on their set targets, but it's the kiss of death for imaginative teaching," he said.

"When new teachers come here, they sometimes need the permission that it's ok to teach off-piste."

John Bangs, visiting professor at London University's Institute of Education, said: "There is a nostalgia for a magic past, like in Dead Poets Society, when teachers were free to go off-piste, but those sort of teachers were the exceptions to prove the rule and there was great inequality of teaching."

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