i Editor's Letter: Where to begin?


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The Independent Online


So many worrying stories in today’s paper – where to begin? I will leave Berlusconi’s resignation to those more qualified than me, ditto the incredible fiddling while Athens burns. I’ve already discussed the lie to the public at the heart of the Border Agency debacle and written about student protests.

The story that really stopped me short today was closer to home: news that head teachers have voted to strike over pensions. I know not all readers (and i columnists) will agree, but I do not believe that they will have taken such a decision lightly.

I’ve spoken to many teachers over the past year at my daughters’ school. To a woman (and occasional man), it is clear that they are very committed, focused and passionate about what they do – not to mention skilled. All go way above the call of duty that is their pay scale and experience level. I feel Britain undervalues the teaching profession and many teachers are horribly underpaid. So much so, that retaining good teachers to work in London has become a huge challenge.

I believe teachers care hugely about pastoral care, too. If you doubt it, then watch Channel 4’s fine documentary Educating Essex – to be seen still on 4 on Demand. I just saw the heartrending final episode and found the travails of the troubled, but bright, care-home boy Vinnie harrowing – just as a viewer. Watch Vic Goddard, head of Harlow’s Passmores School, wave away the camera as he tears up over what he perceives as his “failing” of Vinnie, despite the extraordinary number of hours he and his staff had put into trying to keep the unhappy teen on the straight and narrow.

As I watched Mr Goddard beat himself up, yet again, over events well beyond his control, I was left bewildered, yet again, as to why we don’t all appreciate our children’s teachers more.