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You won't get outstanding results from just anyone

Michael Shaw offers significant advice when he argues for the centrality of teaching quality to educational outcomes ("Two bonkers events, but one was not so brilliant", 3 August). But research indicates that quality teaching is only half the story. Home background equally shapes results.

TESpro reported on New Zealand's Discovery 1 School ("In your interests", 20 July) at which, from 1993 onwards, teachers wanted to work more with children's own ideas and also involve parents. The school now wishes to include home learning.

This was already being done in Lewknor Village School in Oxfordshire in 1982, when we allowed parents up to half a day a week at home with one of their children. Child, parent and teacher decided what was to be done; a report back to the rest of us was required. More than 25 per cent of families across the full social spectrum took that option, in a community that at the time was high on the country's scale for economical disadvantage. Feedback was unanimously positive.

For decades there have been countless examples of superb teaching. Sadly, they prove beacons of excellence rarely studied and disseminated by decision-makers too obsessed with peripheral, ideological and professional priorities serving political and system ends more than children. Little good practice is new - it just needs better articulation and debate. TES, including TESpro, is a critically useful medium for this.

Mervyn Benford, National Association for Small Schools.

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