Education: Your views

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Professional misconduct

Teachers are mistaken when they direct their frustrations about allegations of abuse at the Children Act. The Act does not mention the issue beyond an expectation that children should at least be listened to. The failure is in those who work with children professionally to address the risks. Teachers are still trying to live in a bygone age when professionals were respected by virtue of their status and, as we now know, children were abused behind closed doors. We cannot hope to return to a situation where teachers investigate teachers.

What should be happening, and isn't, is an open debate about how best to protect all those involved in education, teachers and children. Adequate guidelines exist to deal with allegations in a balanced way, which have already been endorsed by the ATL and all the other teacher unions. But hardly anyone knows about them and there has been little or no attempt by LEAs and schools to make them a reality. All schools are supposed to have adopted a written child protection policy and made it known to parents. Few have bothered, so allegations arise in a vacuum with no context against which to judge them.

Many teachers have never learnt the skills of managing disruptive and hostile children or how to monitor their own behaviour; many children are learning from their parents that adults are not to be trusted, so why should teachers be any different?

Ben Whitney

Stafford

All that is gold doesn't glitter

You state (editorial, 24 March) that an education whose aim is economic advancement is the only education grounded in hard reality, now that universities are admitting more students.

May I suggest that learning whose solid foundation is the aim of accruing money and the assorted ephemera of life, which do not survive the person who owned them, is not the only type of education that mankind has deemed "realistic" throughout history.

I hope this doesn't sound hopelessly quaint, but perhaps the aim of increased understanding of ourselves and of the universe is one that can be shared by more than an elite, and has more chance than the stock markets of surviving whatever catastrophe comes next.

Richard Lewis

Tamworth, Staffs

Not so clean cut kids

The positive picture of today's students was news to me and also quite amusing ("Students abandon sex and drugs for mobile phones and laptops", March 24). The photograph of the student in a suit was certainly not representative of the majority of students, who still hang around in trainers and baggy jumpers, even if their overall picture has smartened up.

Why this picture of the smart Yuppie student developed is explained in the second column: the study was undertaken in "20 of Britain's top ranking 'old' universities". I was an undergraduate at Staffordshire University. I am now a postgraduate at the University of Exeter, and the difference is hitting me in the face every day.

Fewer students are having overdrafts today because they are working in part-time jobs, and there is also a large number of students at the "old" universities with seemingly unlimited parental funds. A laptop or PC is almost a basic requirement for today's students.

Birgit Nakielski

University of Exeter

Please send your letters to Wendy Berliner, Editor, Education +, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL. Include a daytime telephone number. Fax letters to 0171-293-2451; e-mail: educ@independent.co.uk

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