Letters - September 17, 2018

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We need more teachers to solve schools crisis

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has said: “We are taking a huge amount of action in terms of tackling teachers’ workload”.

I have yet to find a teacher who has seen any evidence of this.

I taught in secondary schools for 36 years, and have heard such claims from Government many times.

High quality education depends on schools being resourced with well-qualified, committed and creative teachers who arrive at school refreshed, well prepared and able to engage energetically with their classes.

Time-wasting, energy-sapping, bureaucratic tasks simply get in the way.

Who is responsible for all this detritus? Hyperactive Government ministers who fear being labelled ‘under-performing’ if they don’t initiate constant reform.

There are top-heavy ‘senior leadership teams’ in many schools, consisting of very highly paid teachers, none of whom actually teach but justify their existence by devising unnecessary schemes which add to the workload of their staff.

There is Ofsted, the fear of which motivates a lot of this counter-productive activity.

One of its beneficiaries is the lucrative ‘in-service training’ industry – yet more ‘educators’ safely remote from the front- line.

The Government needs to be serious about redirecting all this wasted energy and getting people out of non-jobs back into the classroom to tackle the teacher shortage, and fight the demoralisation and burn-out that has put teacher retention into crisis.

Just talking about it, or devising yet more vague ‘initiatives’, won’t cut it.

Teaching is a wonderful vocation: let’s set our teachers free to get on with it!

Robert Dring

Address supplied


System is at breaking point

As a carer for someone with complex mental health problems, we both have serious concerns with all the changes going on in the health service.

Mental health seems to be pushed aside again.

The Government has said it will put extra cash into the system by 2020 to help those that need support, yet the system is not doing what it should be doing now.

There are a lack of trained community psychiatric nurses and people cannot wait until 2020 for things to improve because the system is at breaking point.

It is at breaking point for two reasons:

n Patients get used to having the trust of a health professional only for the professional to be taken away, normally after six weeks. Patients might, if they are lucky, get an occupational therapist again, normally for another six weeks. Then they are left to their own devices, hence the revolving door situation.

n Staff are unsure if their jobs are safe or are to be reallocated out of the community and back into hospitals.

This makes it harder for patients to get help if community drop-in centres close. (LCC Health Scrutiny Committee, Tuesday, December 17, 2017)

Both staff and patients have the right to know exactly what the future plans of the Trusts are and not wait until 2020 for yet another cobbled-up shambles.


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Will pounds and ounces now return?

I wonder, when we leave the European Union next March, will market traders be free to use avoirdupois (use of pounds and ounces as unit weights) without fear of being criminalised?

Some readers may remember the national story of Sunderland greengrocer Steve Thoburn, who was prosecuted in 2001 for using imperial measures in his shop.

Mr Thoburn’s customers preferred and understood British measures.


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Using religion at
their convenience

At a time when the percentage of those who have no religion, between the ages of 18 and 24, is at an all-time level of 70 per cent, they are also amongst the most unhappy. Self-harming amongst young women is at an all-time high, and suicide amongst young men is causing great concern.

Another interesting observation is the way the young can’t rush into church fast enough when one of their peer group has tragically lost their life, leaving messages on social media such as “see you in Heaven”.

I suspect that such young people would also do their fair share of praying if ever they found themselves in a situation where death seemed inevitable.

Many people seem to use religion as a convenience, called upon as and when required.

Alas, it doesn’t quite work that way.

David Craggs

Address supplied