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  This page updated Friday, November 18, 2011 7:24 PM

1. Discipline

"The most important factor is discipline in the classroom, without which even the best teachers are rendered ineffectual.

Unfortunately a 'good' teacher now is one who chums up with his class and can entertain them. This approach has prospered alongside a deterioration in exam standards and the introduction of softer subjects through to A level.

The solution is to create a stricter environment in schools so that teachers are able to operate effectively. This will encourage top people into the profession and give much greater value for the billions spent on education. If a pupil does not conform, then - after a fair hearing - he/she must be shown the door."

2. The teaching environment / the school

"It is the basic skill of any teacher to be able to simplify and communicate complex ideas in a way which can be accessed by all students. Unfortunately real teaching is something many state school teachers do not get much practice at.

Leave aside the trendy ideas about learning styles, spaced learning, AfL and APP etc or even an few of the older (still silly) ideas about independent learning and facilitating in most state schools behaviour management is a major and all consuming task. There is no teaching going on - not real teaching anyway.

I spent the best part of my life in state school (comprehensive schools) . The policies of inclusion, diversity and trendy teaching patterns mean you do not ever become a real teacher. Eventually I got heartily sick, decided I had done my time and paid my debts to society and went to work in an independent school.

Now I teach. Students learn. There are no behavioural issues and inclusion is a word which we acknowldege but there is little need of it. It shows in my teaching and classroom practice and is measurable in my examination results.

I would say most good teachers end up doing as I have done and get out of the system - another reason you see independent schools performing so well."

3. The teacher / teacher training

"The actual sad reality of the current field is our school teachers are not the best, far from it. Too many floating through the higher education system and into the schools as 'teachers' have little inclination or drive, and sadly, a shortcoming in basic learning skills, which limits their own capacity to communicate to anyone else. It's a trap we've become caught in, obsessing about how to do things, rather than doing them, and sadly those doing them have barely the cognitive capacity to do, or learn how to do, in the first place."

4. The curriculum / the teaching program

Children are put off in primary school because maths is presented as such a chore. My children (11 &13) are now fortunate to be in a (secondary) school where the maths dept excels in a way I have rarely seen before and I get the impression the whole school is in awe of the department; maths is presented in a truly exciting and challenging way, though I doubt this is the case in many schools. However, their primary experience got close to destroying their interest completely. Every week throughout year 6, from Sept until SATS, they revised and received a past SATS paper for homework. No other homework was set, not once. It was the same for my eldest daughter who is now in Yr9. I complained in her case but it backfired on her so I just kept my mouth shut in the case of her siblings. I suspect there are many more children across the country going into secondary education for whom maths has become the most boring subject imaginable, and remains so forever. It really need not be this way but interest in the subject, not just basic skills, has got to be generated in the early years. I am a great believer in the need to work hard at the basic stuff. I'm a teacher (violin) and frequently tell my students they have to slog away at learning things that appear pointless and boring to them, that the understanding will come later, but there are ways and ways of doing this.

The above comments are online responses to several recent education articles appearing in the British newspaper The Telegraph/Education.


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