Stressed teachers need more support
Amanda Spielman states that teachers “shouldn’t have to carry out parental duties” (“Schools can’t be substitute parents, warns Ofsted chief”, News, last week).
When I started teaching in London 50 years ago, thousands of teachers were shouting that from the rooftops.
The provision of school meals was the start. The engagingly entitled physical deterioration committee considered the rejection on fitness grounds of many young volunteers for the Boer war and made recommendations that led to the 1906 Education (Provision of Meals) Act.
The government’s order in August 1939 for schoolchildren to be evacuated from towns and cities placed enormous parental pressures on their accompanying teachers. The comprehensive revolution set in motion from the mid-1960s resulted in a new emphasis on pastoral positions, given the large size many secondary schools became. And the greater number of women going out to work following two world wars increased the pressure.
Teachers largely supported these developments in principle, but were fiercely critical of successive failures of most governments to provide enough appropriately trained staff to meet these huge extra demands. Spielman has plenty of scope to reduce the inappropriate duties piled on teachers who still complain bitterly about excessive workload, as they did throughout my years in teaching. Nigel de Gruchy Orpington, Kent Schools, and the general mental, emotional and cultural development of their pupils, are the “bootstraps” by which a society pulls itself up and advances from one generation to the next.
Personal problems of ill health and the related economic ills of society can indeed be addressed by teachers in state schools. They need only be joined in their efforts by teachers in private schools and university lecturers. Miles Secker