Education Quandary: What's wrong with giving primary schools more independence? Why do teachers hate change?

Hilary Wilce
Wednesday 30 October 2013 02:27

Hilary's advice

Your query stems from the fact that your sister, a primary school teacher, is wildly opposed to Conservative plans to let primary schools become academies, but your husband says that this is just because all teachers are stick-in-the-muds who hate change.

I would be a stick-in-the-mud if I were a teacher and had to deal with all the changes that have been thrown at schools by the Government in recent years. And what the Conservatives are signalling by this ill-thought-out policy is that when they come into office it will be business as usual.

Governments love to fiddle around with school structures. It gives them a strange illusion of power. But what are academies, really, except schools that have had a bit more money channelled in their direction? The so-called partnership model is distinctly variable, as are the results. Some academies are doing well, but that's because they have good heads and teachers, not because they are academies. In addition, there has been a problem finding enough sponsors for secondary schools, so who knows where sponsors for the more than 17,000 primary schools are going to come from, especially in a recession.

And what, exactly, will these sponsors bring with them anyway? What primary schools need more than anything is stability, good heads and teachers, and a clear sense of what they are aiming to do. You don't need fancy, expensive and divisive rebrandings to get that. Your sister is right.

Readers' advice

I am in total agreement with this lady's husband. Teachers always jump up and oppose any plans that might offer children a better chance in life. Whenever you hear them on the radio, all you hear is they won't do things and demanding more money. If it had been left to the teachers, schools would be even worse than they are now.

Lorna MacDonald, Bournemouth

The plan to turn primary schools into academies is a pipe dream for people who don't know about schools and children, and think that bringing someone in from outside will always solve the problems. Who are these people they want to bring in, anyway? Maybe they could round up some banks to put primary schools right about adding up?

Brian Groombe, London SW10

My older child starts school next September and what I want for her is to have good teachers and to learn in a happy and friendly atmosphere. There are so many things that I don't mind, like whether the school building looks a bit shabby, or how many computers they have. It is the people who make a school so, like your sister, I think changing primary schools into something else will be a big upheaval to make a political point. I also think it will make it more competitive to get in. I feel sorry for the teachers if that happens, but even more worried for the children who will be the guinea pigs.

Clare Wyatt, London N8

Why do children in this country have two lots of national examinations, one at GCSE and one at A-level? For the past 11 years we have been living abroad and no other country in Europe has this system. Our children feel very cross and are asking what the point of it is.

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to h.wilce@btinternet. com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous quandaries are online at where they can be searched by topic.

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