Teacher Talk

<preform>Pat Lerew became the president of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) at Easter. Previously, she taught English and life skills at Amery Hill School, a secondary comprehensive in Alton, Hampshire</i></preform>
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The Independent Online

You said at last month's NASUWT conference that teachers now have to deal with problems caused by Thatcherite attitudes. How have you encountered these in your own work?

You said at last month's NASUWT conference that teachers now have to deal with problems caused by Thatcherite attitudes. How have you encountered these in your own work?

I said that some problems could be attributed to Thatcherism in the 1980s. During the Eighties, teachers were considered a low form of life, and there was a lack of parent support for teachers taking action against antisocial behaviour. It is the same behaviour we have seen in schools for a long time, and now problems are spilling out into the streets. It is not because of useless teachers, but a general problem. Antisocial behaviour policies have to be in place everywhere, not just in schools.

What changes have you seen in schoolchildren's behaviour during your career as a teacher?

Children no longer automatically do as they are told. They always want to discuss things, and generally tend to question everything. I am quite happy with independent students, but rights and responsibilities must go together.

You criticise the media for promoting the idea that antisocial behaviour is cool. What should teachers do about this?

Try to point out that the opposite is true. Antisocial behaviour is a community rather than a school problem. We need better role models outside school.

Are you in favour of a six-term year?

No. The plans to change the patterns of the school year are an irrelevance and divert attention from the importance of educating children. I would prefer there to be no changes because the whole process is a big upheaval for little gain. If change must happen, then it should be done to a national pattern, otherwise we would just be repeating the problems of the current system, where local education authorities have holidays at different times, which can cause childcare problems for parents if, for example, they have children at schools in different areas.

Did you feel valued during your most recent teaching post?

I felt more valued than I did in the Eighties. In the last 10 years, the tide has turned. People now know that to get good education you need to show that you value the people giving it. It is a good thing that society at large has become more informed about what we are trying to do. We are also being treated more fairly by the media than we used to be. But I am not asking for only a good press. We are always happy to hear healthy criticism.

education@independent.co.uk

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