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Unlock pupils' self-esteem

IN his article "Poor children poor results" (TES, October 11), Nicholas Pyke describes how politicians and advisers are scratching their heads about children who seem unable or unwilling to move beyond level 3. I would recommend that they consider the fact that self-esteem goes into the parts which literacy and numeracy cannot reach.

Neglecting how children feel about themselves will always lead to frustration when trying to improve achievement. Understanding the importance of pupil self-esteem is crucial to success.

Certainly, poor family backgrounds are linked to the problem. I spent most of my teaching career in schools where the family background of many pupils left much to be desired. As head of a school which had a highly competent, enthusiastic staff offering an exciting approach to the curriculum but having little impact on good results, I introduced a new activity aimed at helping pupils understand their emotions and raise their self-esteem. The outcome was more positive attitudes and better relationships which transformed the ethos of the school.

Using circle time to educate the emotions and helping to build healthy levels of self-esteem has a very rewarding impact on the academic achievements of pupils.

It has been said that parents hold the key to their children's self-esteem - but teachers hold the spare.

Murray White

International Council for Self-Esteem

5 Ferry Path, Cambridge.

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