Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

TES Letters

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

TES Letters

Article excerpt

A shoulder to lean on, but for what purpose?

What strikes me about "Staffing in the early years" (By the numbers, 31 July) is not so much the statistical information but the fact that the children in the picture are walking with their hands on one another's shoulders (see above).

I have only ever noticed this practice outside the UK. I've received some odd looks when, wearing my "elf and safety hat", I've asked why children have to walk like that when adults don't. I've even seen pupils going up and down stairs, complete with heavy satchels, in this formation. I'm at a loss as to why.

Rob Crompton

Newbury, Berkshire

Exam proposals are missing the mark

The notion that teachers should be expected to mark exam scripts in order to address the shortage of examiners is suspect ("All teachers should learn how to mark exams, says head of OCR board",

Such marking is a specialised activity, appealing to particular mindsets, and cannot be likened to the more discursive assessment systems that teachers employ in the course of their duties. Press-ganged examiners will make poor examiners.

Dr Millan Sachania

Headmaster, Streatham and Clapham High School, London

Let students be the judge

Why not let students assess their own progress? ("The 'burdensome' assessment that weighs staff down", News, 31 July.) Ask any child after only a few days in a new class who is the best at spelling, maths and so on, and where they would put themselves on the list; they will know with unerring accuracy.

Maybe schools should be honing these skills. In my experience, children can engage in self-assessment from an early age and, with support and experience, can become surprisingly accurate. I have even found that pupils can effectively assess their work against external criteria and enjoy seeing how well they can improve their scores.

This idea has long been used informally in subjects such as PE, but perhaps it is time to use it in a more formal way, easing the burden for teachers and avoiding some of the timeconsuming and unnecessary overassessment of young people.

Frederick Sandall

Retired headteacher and local authority adviser

Lifelong friendship, forged in the staffroom

Thank you to Tom Finn-Kelcey for highlighting the benefits of spending time with colleagues ("Why teachers who play together, stay together", Comment, 31 July). …

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