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Children deserve the best start in life.

Byline: Barrie M A Roberts

Sir, - Re teacher recruitment and retention advertising campaign (Post, Oct 31).

It was Disraeli, who more than 100 years ago, reminded us that: 'Upon the education of our children depends the future of our country's prosperity and well being' (or words of that effect).

As we seek to meet the challenges of a new millennium, this sentiment is as relevant as it ever was. With this in mind, I hope that the advertising campaign to promote teaching as a career, launched by Estelle Morris, schools minister, will have some success - after all our children/young people in schools/colleges need and deserve the best start in life that we are able to give them.

And that can't happen if there is a shortage of teachers. Already, one hears of schools who have been forced to operate four day weeks.

As someone who has spent a lot of time in the classroom, and as someone who keeps in touch with friends and colleagues in the world of education, I have to say (and I take no pleasure in this) that Labour's Estelle Morris and her colleagues in Government, now in their fourth year of office, have not delivered on their 1997 promises.

The teacher training advertising campaign, like so many of New Labour's high profile announcements, in the words of Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, has been 'another triumph of image over substance'. I agree with Brian Carter, Midlands regional officer for the National Union of Teachers that the Government ought to be making fundamental changes if fully staffed schools are to become the norm.

Excessive workloads, high stress levels and an accompanying reduction in job satisfaction have long been associated with the teaching profession, especially since the introduction of the National Curriculum which, with the benefit of hindsight, was generally thought to be over-prescribed and over-detailed. And, alas, was accompanied by an ever-increasing paper mountain.

The Government, if it is serious about tackling the crisis in many of our schools, and isn't just concerned with 'spin', must re-visit the whole issue of accountability.

Coercive management and its accompanying bureaucratic attainability procedures will not encourage teachers, who want to teach, to stay in the profession.

The time has come to set schools and their heads and staffs free from interfering government and central control. Teachers want to teach children and young people but bureaucracy, red tape and a constant round of new initiatives accompanied by even more staff meetings is preventing them from doing so.

Recruitment and retention of teachers will be assisted by adequate and fair salary levels but most important of all, those who opt for the profession want job satisfaction. There is nothing more important, then giving our children and young people a good start in life.

BARRIE M A ROBERTS

Conservative Prospective,

Parliamentary Candidate,

Birmingham Yardley.

Teacher anxiety

cause for concern

Sir, - I was concerned by the findings of the Teachers' Benevolent Fund, relating to Teacherline, the counselling support service that is provided for teachers. It is alarming to discover that so many teachers are suffering from anxiety and loss of confidence due to heavy workloads and constant change.

Surely the Government must recognise the damage that is being caused to the profession as a result of its policies regarding inspections, target setting and changes to the curriculum. In light of the systematic demoralisation of our teachers, it is hardly surprising that people are not choosing teaching as a career.

How can the Government expect to improve standards in education when teachers are under so much pressure?

JANETTE FLETCHER

Kings Heath,

Birmingham.

Low expectations

must be challenged

Sir, - While I agree with the principle of equality in the resourcing of our schools, I beg to differ with you on the needs of some schools that must be recognised.

Schools serving children in poorer areas, usually in the inner city, have specific and urgent needs which must be recognised and met.

In my opinion, though, the most urgent issues to be dealt with in such schools are less to do with buildings and more to do with the whole culture of the school community.

At the core of this culture are the low expectations, which must be challenged.

Resources provided in these schools should be linked to outcomes, such as the level of parent participation, the extent to which the school is a learning centre for the whole community.

I fear that if resources are not targeted, the gap that exists in achievement between the 'good' schools and the not-so-good schools will have wider implications for society as a whole.

ADNAN SAIF

Muath Welfare Trust,

The Bordesley Centre.

Don't spread

the silage around

Sir, - Please tell Jason Beattie (Post, Nov 3) that had he consulted his dictionary prior to writing he would have discovered the word silage. Cows would be very cross if farmers spread it all over the field since cows expect to be given it to eat and they quite enjoy it. Muck on the other hand leaves the other end of the cow after eating the silage. Jason would make a very poor farmer.

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Title Annotation:Letter
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 9, 2000
Words:868
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