Teacher talk

Christine Pretty, 55, is head of modern languages at St Michael's Catholic High School in Garston, near Watford. She is a member of the NASUWT
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The Independent Online

Do you agree with Margaret Hodge, the minister for higher education, that universities should lower A-level entry requirements for youngsters from deprived backgrounds?

In my experience, quite a few universities already adjust grades for students depending on the school they're at. If anything, universities need to go further with this.

Students from deprived backgrounds need to be given a proper chance to make their way in life and to broaden their horizons.

What do you think about the comments of Tim Brighouse, the retiring ceo of Birmingham City Council, that the national curriculum is "Stalinist" and that there is too much primary school testing?

"Stalinist" is a bit over the top. But I do think in general that there's too much testing, and not just in primary schools. Schooling should retain some fun, especially at primary level.

How do you feel about the teaching of creationism?

I don't mind it being taught as a piece of literature within the study of Christianity, but to take it out of context is a mistake. There's a great diversity of religion in this country and comparative religious teaching is probably the best approach.

Are you in favour of taking industrial action in support of a 35-hour week?

Reluctantly, yes. I've been teaching for a long time, and I see a lot of younger colleagues working so hard that they've no life outside school. If they burn themselves, the profession will be in a worse mess than it is now in terms of recruitment. The workload has got so much worse in the last five years.

Did you think it was important for schoolchildren to watch the Queen Mother's funeral?

They should at least have been able to watch the highlights – it's good for them to learn about the history of their country. And the funeral raised the question in schools of the role of the monarchy, which is an important point for debate.

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