Letter of the day

Cllr Suzy Horton

One of the things that unites us is our belief that education and learning are good things.

Even politicians of all parties are usually on the same page in aspiring to create the ‘best’ schools for our children.

I was lucky enough to speak at a national conference recently about teacher recruitment and retention.

With applications for teacher training down by ten per cent nationally and nearly a third of teachers leaving the profession within five years, the profession really is at crisis point.

I was one of those children who lined up Teddy bears and dolls whilst parading in front of them taking a register – I never wanted to be anything other than a teacher and, with hindsight, it came from a desire to help, nurture and enable others.

I started teaching just after the 1988 Education Reform Act; the act that started nearly three decades of change, leading to the marketisation of education and micro-management of learning: introducing a narrow curriculum, limiting the breadth of what is learned, reducing learning to lists of skills and knowledge, measuring and quantifying everything, reducing the autonomy of teachers, stifling spontaneity and creativity, increasing workload and introducing league tables which make success competitive instead of creating success for all.

I left the profession half-way along that journey, with the utmost admiration for my colleagues who have hung in there despite an effective pay cut, worsening working conditions due to funding changes and increased workloads.

We need to accord teachers the respect they deserve, thank them for doing such a worthwhile job, at least give them back their lost salaries by lifting the one per cent pay cap, look again at funding and allow OFSTED to give them permission to instil life-long learning for every child, whatever that looks like.

I’m convinced that there must still be children in front of a line of Teddies with a desire to help, nurture and enable others – and I really hope that things change so that they want to become teachers and stay in the profession for their whole career.

Cllr Suzy Horton

Councillor for Central Southsea ward

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