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Unions 2000 Tuesday, 1 August, 2000, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Teaching skills 'being devalued'
exercise book
Literacy strategy "too rigid" says teacher
A teachers' leader has condemned the government for treating school staff "like robots" and pupils "like products on a conveyor belt".

The new chairman of the Professional Association of Teachers, Caroline Wigmore, said government policies were weakening the professionalism on which the English education system depended.

caroline wigmore
Caroline Wigmore: "Professionalism" theme
She said there was a "climate of fear" caused by Ofsted inspectors and complained that many supposed education experts - who advised ministers - had little recent experience of teaching in schools.

Ms Wigmore, a primary school teacher in the London Borough of Merton, told the association's annual conference in Cheltenham that she and her colleagues knew that children learned best when their imaginations were caught - not when they were following a rigid lesson plan.

But teachers who drew on their professionalism to adapt lessons to their pupils' needs were likely to be criticised for going "off task".

"It takes a courageous head teacher to recognise that sticking rigidly to the literacy strategy, for example, with its tightly controlled lesson format, is not necessarily the best method for that school's pupils," she said.

All-pervading

"Such head teachers should not have to steel their nerve and battle against imperious, inflexible authorities, but be praised and held up as an example of excellence which all schools should emulate."

Rigidity and inflexibility were "de-skilling" staff at all levels and driving people out of teaching.

The "devaluation of professionalism" was not confined to classroom matters but had pervaded the whole school, Ms Wigmore told delegates.

But teachers were living in fear of people who typically had not taught for many years so had no recent first hand experience of dealing with children.

"The power these people hold is awesome, as is the money and trust invested in their judgement," she said.

"It is more than time that such judgements should be questioned and a more practicable and reliable system for monitoring the standards of education schools provide put in place."

See also:

30 May 00 | Unions 2000
24 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
11 Mar 00 | Unions 2000
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