LETTER : Distorted view of teachers

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The Independent Online
From Mr J. Starkie

Sir: I, along with my colleagues, am thoroughly sickened by the incessant attack on our professionalism ("Schools need much more than money", 16 December). It is the end of a long term and we are generally on our knees, having spent lunch breaks, evenings and weekends during term time struggling to enhance the experiences and achievements of the children in our charge, in addition to the gruelling task of managing and teaching students in groups of 30 or more within a teaching day.

In my current school, and in any of the previous six schools I have taught in, I simply do not recognise the foot-dragging, luddite, lazy image which, knowingly or not, Chris Woodhead and others in the distant ivory towers of Whitehall portray of teachers.

What I completely fail to understand is why Mr Woodhead is attempting to create a false dichotomy of class size versus quality of teaching. It is obvious to all that quality of teaching is vitally important. However it is equally self-evident that pupil-to-teacher ratio is of just as much influence in the experience of children. You only have to look at the comparative studies of pupil attainment in France and Germany with those in Britain, then look at the staff/student ratios in the three countries, to arrive at that conclusion.

Yours faithfully,

J. Starkie

Plymouth, Devon

17 December