Page last updated at 21:38 GMT, Wednesday, 20 July 2005 22:38 UK

Should teachers use the word 'fail'?

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has dismissed suggestions that the concept of "failure" should be removed from school in favour of "deferred success".

Here is a selection of your comments.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion received so far:

I will be teaching my children, in the kindest way possible, that success and failure exist as possible outcomes in all aspects of our lives. They should try as hard as they can, but be content when this does not make them pop stars or rocket scientists.
Mike, Bristol

If pupils don't learn the concept of failure at school, how will they ever cope with failure in their adult lives? This is just more political correctness stupidity!
John Juerss, Bracknell

This is the most stupid suggestion I think I have ever heard
Jim, Birmingham
This is the most stupid suggestion I think I have ever heard. If a child grows up without having to face the reality that failure is a possibility, how will they react when they fail to get a job, or are overlooked promotion, or have to face any one of the millions of knock backs of real life in the adult world?
Jim, Birmingham

I don't see anything wrong with failure - it should be used as an incentive to do better. It's how it's communicated. And you have to consider the difference between a child who has really tried but not quite met the criteria versus the child who just didn't bother.
Carol, Brentwood

Through my work I have seen children who have no qualifications or skills completely dejected because nobody warned them about failure.
S Jones, Staffordshire

In a country where 40% gets you a pass at GCSE and A Level, how thick do you have to be to fail?
Daniel, London

As a 6th form student even I think this is ridiculous. The whole point of taking a test or exam is to pass. If you don't pass then you have done the opposite, which happens to be fail. Young people are not as weak minded as people are lead to believe, and coping with failure is going to help us in the real world.
Darren, Brecon, Wales

School is supposed to be training them for life and a job, so it needs to train them to deal with failure rather than simply deny that it happens.
Richard Read, London

Teachers should use the word 'failure', but with a bit of common sense and sensitivity
Andrew Fisher, Stoke-on-Trent
Teachers should use the word 'failure', but with a bit of common sense and sensitivity. When young people enter the adult world, they have to deal with success and failure. Schools have to prepare them for these sorts of situations.
Andrew Fisher, Stoke-on-Trent

Yes, they should! To do otherwise dilutes the value of success. Pupils should be encouraged to strive for excellence. Any failure should be qualified by the need to review their efforts, at which point the teacher should offer guidance as a matter of good practice.
Sheila, Chesterfield

This is just political correctness gone mad. Children need clear boundaries in all aspects of their development but especially in school. It's quite simple really if you haven't passed or succeeded you have failed - if you don't like failing, learn from it and try harder to succeed next time.
Emma, London

As in everything, it's not what is said but how one says it. If a child does not pass its exams, it has failed. By pandering to egos we will create more generations of undisciplined, non-motivated people who take no pride in trying to achieve.
Kiltie Chisholm, Staffs

If you don't have failure, you can't have success
Aodh Jean, Glasgow
If you don't have failure, you can't have success. Things like this will leave us in a world were we are all prevented from achieving, in case achievement causees offence to those that haven't.
Aodh Jean, Glasgow

This world is one where failure exists so it is important to associate our youngsters with that concept.
Ed Lawrence, Coventry

What is this current trend of mollycoddling kids all about? Non-competitive 'sports days' and now no such thing as failure? So much for schools preparing children for the real world.
Leigh, Derbyshire

Of course they should. Using the phrase 'deferred success' is a nonsense and it just panders to our new soft culture.
Nick Hendy, London

Children need to understand that real life involves winners and losers
David Rees, Jerez, Spain
The education system is supposed to prepare young people for life in the real world, not life in a box of cotton wool. Children need to understand that real life involves winners, losers, failures, successes and risks.
David Rees, Jerez, Spain

For once I agree with the government! To appreciate success you must also appreciate failure. In business you do not have 'deferred success', you have projects that fail and are recognised as such.
Mark Sweatman, London

People are going to fail in life. Everyone does sometimes. Better to get them used to it when they're children so it will be less of a shock later on.
James King, Coventry

One suspects that in many cases the success is going to be deferred for rather a long time. I fear this approach to telling children they are doing fine when they aren't leads to a lack of motivation to work harder.
Toby Moncaster, Colchester

I think the time has come to introduce the need for experience in the real world into the requisite qualifications for teachers.
Gary, Isle of Wight, UK

Failure only happens when we give up trying
Darren Jones, Hyde, Cheshire
One of my old school friends gave up a job as head of a maths department to get back into the classroom as he'd had enough of teachers who were deferring the success of their pupils. The concept has some value for the kids though. Failure only happens when we give up trying.
Darren Jones, Hyde, Cheshire

To remove the word failure is to stop describing the situation adequately and to raise confusion. Encouragement can be given alongside the use of the word or description. The net result will be to lower aspirations and standards and to confuse people who really ought to face up the reality of their situations. How can you change something if you are not aware there is a problem? We must continue to tell people if their attainment is falling short of expected standards - i.e. failing!
Dave Hay, York, UK

How about "achieving according to ability", or "achieving" for short.
David, London

Tell the kids they failed their exams and then give them a clip round the ear for not revising properly! Might be the wake up call most of the kids need these days.
Chris, UK

I like the idea, which appears sound to me. I propose to add the designation PhD (deferred success) to my name forthwith.
David Sneath, Leicester, UK

Of course the word 'failure' should be used
Michael Boyns, Lincoln
Of course the word 'failure' should be used. Not everybody is capable of doing everything, there are some things some people just cannot do and will never be able to do. This is a fact of life and children need to learn this the same way they need to learn other things.
Michael Boyns, Lincoln

This is the worst type of woolly liberal idea I've ever heard. I hate to think what will happen to these children once they enter the real world. If they eliminate the concept of failure there will be no incentive to better ones self. We will end up a nation of failures!
Cliff, Essex

If we project this kind of liberal nonsense into the future will it lead to criminals being convicted as 'deferred innocents', so as to not demotivate them?
James Fowler, Ilkley UK




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