Letter: Teachers want the very best for their pupils

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The Independent Online
Sir: The only conclusion Bryan Appleyard would have us draw from his cynical and pessimistic piece ('A test for Thatcher's children', 9 June) is that any self-respecting parents with a few bob should send their child into private-sector education.

He contends that the teaching 'establishment' (his words) is squirming. He intimates that teachers intend to 'forget about education'. He implies that self-expression and theatre workshops are uneducational and suggests teachers ignore spelling errors.

Teachers are not 'wavering', Mr Appleyard, they are teaching. They do not fall into the two camps of 'caring, egalitarian and holistic' or 'imposing, competitive, classical' he describes. No two teachers are alike; no two schools are alike. Contrary to Mr Appleyard's belief, however, teachers are united on one thing, regardless of whether they are in the private or public sector: they want the absolute best for the children they teach.

To argue that John Patten's standards are low and minimalist and to conclude that 'this is the right thing to do' is absurd. Subjects which require reasoning, imagination and linguistic dexterity cannot be assessed by box-ticking and synonym identification.

Mr Appleyard admires the 'products' of schools in Japan, Korea, Malaysia and China. He suggests that our schoolchildren will be unable to achieve jobs, prosperity and freedom if they cannot compete with these 'products'.

Jobs and prosperity come from a successful economy, not from a child's ability to tick boxes. The real failure in this country is that of a political system that puts up John Major as leader, then reels back amazed when he fails to achieve.

Yours faithfully,


Polebrook, Northamptonshire

9 June