Education Quandary: 'My children's teachers are good. Where are the bad ones?'

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The Independent Online

Hilary's advice

You've been lucky. Bad teachers are everywhere. Secondary schools in deprived areas find it hard to recruit good teachers. You have to be special to take on the challenge, and such teachers are thin on the ground. So standards in those schools are often poor (but at times very good), and include far too many teachers who are teaching subjects they are not trained in.

Yet you have to try. The biggest challenge in education is how to make mediocre teachers better. The answer is with improved school leadership – good heads don't let poor teaching go unchallenged – better teacher training and strong systems for getting rid of bad teachers. Children will only ever get a good education if they get good teaching. I'd scrap our bloated testing industry to invest more in teachers.

Readers' advice

You should visit my granddaughter's school. It has had two heads since she started. She's bright but is working far below her capability.
Sue Bolte, Oxford

Our son was good at GCSE science and might have taken it at A-level. He now has a degree in history and no career direction. Bad teachers are very influential on a child's future.
Marianne and Steve Katz, Essex

The Tories say the number of unqualified, foreign and trainee teachers has risen five-fold since Labour came to power.
Liam Moran, London SW6

Next week's quandary

Dear Hilary,

My deputy head is popular with pupils, who have set up a Facebook page in appreciation of him. This is now getting messages from past pupils as well. I'm pleased for him, but I'm worried about the morale of other staff, many of whom are equally hard-working and effective, but lack his charisma.

Send quandaries to Hilary Wilce to arrive by Monday 28 July at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or email h.wilce@ btinternet. com. Include your postal address. Readers whose letters are printed will receive a Berol Combi Pack of a cartridge pen, handwriting pen and ink eraser.