Author: By Hilary Wilce
Yes, the new instructions were clunky and time-consuming. They tied teachers’
hands and took away their professional autonomy. But they imposed some
much-needed classroom order on the chaos and have been refined into
something more manageable and flexible.
Yet times change and I believe it is now right to ditch them. The culture of
teaching has changed beyond measure. Today’s teachers are steeped in the
need to teach children the basics in a systematic way and to offer
additional help to those who are struggling. Schools know they are
accountable for every pupil. Meanwhile, no more progress is made in
improving standards, many children are still being failed by the system, and
it is right that schools are now given more freedom to help their own pupils
in their own way.
It all boils down to whether you believe educational progress goes round in a
circle, or up in a spiral. In this case I believe it is the latter. New
problems will emerge, they always do, but I don’t believe it will be a
return to business as before, and, with standards stalling, it is time to
try a fresh approach.
It is a bitter irony that the Government has decided to drop these Stalinist
strategies and all the expensive consultancy that goes with them ? and to
return to more local support of schools. Education authorities have been
progressively stripped of their powers under New Labour. Now the Government
wants to rebuild them. The king is dead. Long live the king!
Harold Johnston, Birmingham
Does your reader realise that the strategies are not statutory and teachers
are already free to interpret them as they think best and deliver literacy
and numeracy as creatively as they like? I sometimes feel that the media
always reports on school stories in black and white while what actually goes
on in the classroom is in shades of gray. All the U-turns and Government
reversals so loved by the newspapers are never quite like that in the
classroom. This change will make little difference to teachers.
Hilary Lockley, Berkshire
As secondary teachers, we see so many children coming up from primary schools
without the basics that it is scandalous. But it is nothing to do with how
those schools teach literacy and numeracy. It is bad teaching. The proof is
that the standard of our intake varies from primary between primary schools,
and does not correlate directly with social conditions. With no outside
control we fear this variation could get worse and that children in poor
schools will drop further behind.
Jo Wright and Diana Jones, Kent
Next Week’s Quandary
I?m the head of a primary school where pupils come from good homes, but
their health is a worry. They are definitely getting fatter and at last
week?s sports day few were able to run far. What can we do? We already teach
about diet and exercise but it obviously isn?t enough.
Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to
h.wilce@btinternet. com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose
replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th
Edition. Previous quandaries are online at www.hilarywilce.com where they
can be searched by topic.
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