Archive for January, 2012


Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Sir: Michael Gove lives in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks we do not put up with incompetent midwives and surgeons. It is not unknown for a doctor to operate on the wrong leg or leave instruments behind in the patient. Having given birth to two children, once assisted by a good mid-wife and once by a bad one I know the difference.

The problem with routing out poor teachers is that heads already employ the best they can find, there is not a great pool of splendid teachers waiting to step up to the plate; the problem is a simple one of supply and demand.

Until the profile of teaching as a profession is significantly raised to attract a better standard of recruit little is likely to change. Retaining teachers is also critical: good departments are built over years not months. Having three maths teachers a year is like having no maths teacher at all.

As a one- time teacher myself and having seen my own children through to University I can testify that poor teachers exist in both private and state sectors and the best one can hope for is that one’s child will not be stuck with this or that not very good teacher for too long. However until you spend a year in a classroom yourself it is impossible to understand the demands made on teachers, (particularly the relentless intensity of the work), and for this reason rather than any other teachers should be cut some slack and allowed “off-days” just like anyone else, Michael Gove included.

He is doing his best with a very knotty problem but to make the assumption that there are no poor midwives or doctors as opposed to teachers is a complete fallacy. It might be just that little bit more obvious to everyone if you are a poor teacher, that is all.

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