Gove’s faith in narrow tests is misplaced

From: John G Davies, Alma Terrace, East Morton, Keighley, West Yorkshire.

JACK Brown’s defence of Michael Gove’s educational reforms (Yorkshire Post, July 19) makes a number of basic errors. For a start neuroscience has nothing to offer a teacher facing Year Seven, Set Four, on a windy Friday afternoon nearing the end of term; nor does psychology offer her much support.

“Empirical Science” in educational research is hamstrung by ethical concerns, so it is largely inappropriate. There are more appropriate research methods that have provided reliable evidence about the use of various teaching methods, together with ways of organising classes and schools. The ‘Evidence Based Science Education’ resources from Leeds and York universities is but one example.

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Common sense might say teaching children grammar and spelling will enable them to write and speak better but the evidence says otherwise.

Which way does a policy 
maker go? Mr Gove seems to prefer “common sense”, even though the evidence says that it is wrong.

In a similar way, Mr Brown’s support of the examination system is myopic. It is an industrial model based on processing, measuring, examining and testing, sometimes to destruction.

The intrinsic message that this conveys to both teachers and pupils is “passing tests and exams is important” whereas the message should be that learning is important, it is interesting and exciting.

Children are complex individuals who cannot be adequately defined by a few numbers or levels coming from narrow tests.

Human beings are far better equipped to make complex judgments about each other than any test, we do it all the time, all day, every day.

The coalition does not trust teachers, or other professionals for that matter, to make that kind of judgment, so we have a centralised Stalinist regime. Let us pray that the Wall comes down soon.

From: Peter Hyde, Driffield, East Yorkshire.

I ENJOY penning letters to the Yorkshire Post and, very occasionally, receive compliments about them.

I put my skills, such as they are, down to one particular teacher. Miss EM Bracey was an elderly – to us – spinster who substituted us for the children she never had.

She had been retained in teaching long after retirement age, due to the Second World War and was absolutely devoted and inspirational.

I am certain that many of we – wartime pupils – will continue to remember her with great affection.

I wonder how many of the modern, up-to-date educators will be remembered with the same love we had for her?

No way to treat a crowd-puller

From: Keith W Sturdy, Grimbald Road, Aspin Park Estate, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

IT only seems a couple of weeks ago that we heard from North Yorkshire County Council about more government cuts being on the way regarding council funding. How were we all 
going to survive this I wondered, feeling sorry for all the 
council employees and those councillors on their meagre expenses.

That was until I read the article about the steam bus in Whitby (Yorkshire Post, July 19). Some jobsworth from county hall has now decided that the pick-up point for this bus is unsafe. Unsafe on what grounds? Has anyone been injured? I have watched the bus on several occasions and have not noticed any safety issues. I have also travelled on it, again with no issues. The street in question is one-way and supposed to be access only for most of the day so only a limited amount of vehicles should be using it. The bus also loads on the side which is away from passing traffic.

The Smiths are a hard working family who have obviously helped attract thousands of people to the town and should not be treated like this.

If these council employees have nothing better to do, I suggest they go out and do something about the state of the roads and footpaths of this vast county. If they still have nothing to do after that, I suggest that they call 
round and see me and explain why on the large estate where 
I live, every road has speed bumps, apart from mine. This 
is the only road which also contains a junior school and is partially one-way, so despite the whole estate being subject to a 20mph limit, cars, including those with parents, travel past 
my house and the school in excess of 40mph.

Five-star perks need explaining

From: DS Boyes, Rodley Lane, Leeds.

AFTER revelations of the five-star hotel and travel perks enjoyed by the head of Leeds and Partners, can anyone believe a word that Keith Wakefield – the leader of Leeds Council – says about shortage of funds to maintain essential services?

Can either he, or council 
chief executive Tom Riordan, ever look the poor people of Leeds 
in the face again, after cutting their libraries, day centres, 
social care and even school clothing grants while someone is living it up on corporate credit cards funded by us, to pay for wining, dining, five-star hotels around the world and even £285 taxi rides?

Surely any employee living so far away from work should be meeting their own travel costs like everyone else has to do?

As for the secrecy surrounding these activities, whatever happened to ‘transparency’ or ‘freedom of information’ when those holding public office refuse to come clean about just what has been going on?