Letter: Shephard dictates to the teachers

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Sir: Gillian Shephard, in attempting to lay down detailed methods for the teaching of maths and English, is beyond the limits of her professional competence ("Tories act to stamp out trendy teaching", 13 June). She would not, I hope, use ministerial responsibility to tell a surgeon when to operate, a lawyer how to interpret the latest ruling of the Court of Appeal or Mike Atherton how to play an out-swinger.

She will of course reply that she is right. It is a defence more often employed than upheld. It is of course possible that the view may be right but that does not give her the authority to impose her opinion. In transferring an issue of judgement into one of academic freedom, she is likely to freeze the normal processes of professional change and prolong the teaching practices to which she objects for much longer than they would otherwise have lasted.

Good teaching can be done in many different styles and none of us can teach according to any professional conscience but our own. If she wants teaching done according to her own judgement she must do it herself.


Liberal Democrat Social Security spokesperson

House of Lords

London SW1