Teacher Talk: 'It's not just teachers that affect school standards'

Jackie Hayes, 58, teaches drama at Longford Community School in Feltham, Middlesex
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The Independent Online


What do you think about the new pay rises for teachers in England and Wales of 2.9 per cent – with 4 per cent for those in inner London?

They're nonsensical. Why isn't the Government offering what we need, which is a reasonable salary? I think that inner London teachers are having a really hard time meeting costs – but there are areas outside London such as Teddington where I live which are just as expensive. And for teachers living in outer London and teaching in inner London, who have to cope with spiralling transport costs and the congestion charge, what's a few per cent going to mean?

The chief inspector of schools, David Bell, says that disruptive boys are impeding a rise in school standards and that bad behaviour is linked to poor teaching. Do you agree?

According to Ofsted, a school in a working-class area, Hounslow Manor, is better managed and has more imaginative and inspired teachers than the Oratory school, where the Blairs' children go.

Yet the Oratory's exam results are much better. I think this shows that it's not just teachers that affect school standards – background and good parenting are crucial.

There are problems with boys at every school where boys lack positive male role models in their lives. And if, as we see now, there are difficulties in recruiting talented teachers, what chance have those boys got to forge a good relationship with a male role model at school?

Do drama lessons have something to offer to all children?

Yes. It's been said that if you could teach children only one subject, drama would be the best choice, because you can teach so many things through the discipline. There are now actors teaching science to schoolchildren through drama. I remember once working with a young history teacher who was panicking about how she could teach the Cold War. I said she should do a bit of drama in which the protagonists refuse to co-operate with one another and constantly move the goalposts in terms of what they are trying to achieve.

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