Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

TES Letters

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

TES Letters

Article excerpt

Without the arts there can be no happy medium

There's no hope for us until the government takes notice of our dear Sir Ken Robinson ("Cha-cha-change the balance in schools", 8 August). Why do the powers that be not realise that happy people are happy workers? Why does it take an official survey ("Don't worry, be happy - and get better grades", 22 August) to tell us the bloomin' obvious: that happy teachers get better results? And why is it that people still believe you can only learn maths through being taught maths? The arts play a vital role in enabling students to absorb information.

Children should not be going to school to learn stuff in order to be factory fodder. They should be going there to discover themselves, to find out what they are good at, and maybe to recognise and accept their weaknesses, too.

If industry wants calculus to the nth degree, it can offer training or apprenticeships. The way we work now is to stuff all our kids with more maths than they need, then offer them up to industry - which helps itself to the "best". This leaves the rest with no job, no self-awareness and a great hole where their natural skills and their happiness could have resided.

Victoria Jaquiss

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, teacher and education campaigner

Putting some thought into new GCSEs

Schools that had lower GCSE English results this year will continue to suffer when higher-demand GCSEs take effect in 2017 ("Schools reeling after 'clobbering' in GCSEs", 29 August). The new specifications will require students to respond to unseen 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century texts that will be more demanding than at present. They will need to deduce and infer meaning confidently, form opinions swiftly and write them up fluently.

With great respect to Sir John Rowling, the PiXL (Partners in Excellence) Club's approach of focusing on exam technique won't help much with this. Teaching needs to encourage students to develop higher-order thinking skills, which most can achieve. There is growing evidence that the Let's Think in English programme from King's College London works particularly well with the "disadvantaged, needy" students of whom Sir John speaks (www.letsthinkinenglish.org).

Laurie Smith

Let's Think in English, King's College London

New teachers: enjoy the ride

As the first day of my teaching career approaches, I feel a sense of trepidation similar to queueing up for a roller-coaster ride. The PGCE year feels a million years ago and yet the ink on my qualified teacher status certificate is barely dry. Is it any wonder that I find myself drifting between fear and excitement? Newly qualified teachers have two choices: screaming or enjoying the ride ahead. Let your passion make you brave, remember how far you have come and don't forget to smile for the camera! …

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