YP Letters: Testing and technology pile the pressure on our teachers

What can be done to tackle stress in the classroom?
What can be done to tackle stress in the classroom?
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From: Ian Richardson, Beverley.

I MUST warmly congratulate The Yorkshire Post for giving the chronic problems in the teaching profession such prominence (The Yorkshire Post, August 4).

I have recently fully retired after a 35-year career in teaching, mainly in East Yorkshire.

Fortunately the last four years were only part-time, largely as a consequence of the very pressures that Ruby Kitchen’s report admirably covered.

The monitoring and data-driven culture that has grown ever more monstrous over the past two decades is nothing short of a national tragedy.

If we could demonstrate that the quality of learning by our young people had risen as a consequence of this misguided approach, then there might just be a valid counter-argument.

Yet virtually the whole profession knows that this is not the case. All schools have got better at its teaching to tests, which destroys the love of learning and often destroys the lives of teachers.

We are now starting to hear mollifying words from politicians who finally seem to realise that they created a hideous mess. It will, however, need root and branch change and I would suggest we should start by learning from countries where education is working well, particularly the Nordic nations.

From: Neil Richardson, Kirkheaton.

SOME of the suggestions regarding teacher reform (The Yorkshire Post, August 4) aren’t of obvious value to teaching staff. If tutors attend sessions of yoga or happiness workshops, they will then have even fewer hours for preparation, marking or contributing comments to other manadatory schemes.

If teachers don’t answer emails after 8pm, the messages will remain in email inboxes for next morning at 8am (or 7am) – a potential source of unhappiness.

A Department for Eduation website on workload starts with a tip to put teaching first (this may mean put learning first) and not regard technology as the starting point. However, the next recommendation is that leaders need to champion the use of technology; also on this site, staff are advised to consider the use of self-marking tools such as Kahoot, update of homework via online platforms, and to ask why some people find technology a problem.

Given years of investment in high-tech devices for staff and pupils, I can’t see information technology being nudged off its educational pedestal, despite its limitations as a system to support learning.