Teacher in parting shot at Gove
A primary school teacher has penned a scathing open letter to Education Secretary Michael Gove outlining her reasons for quitting her profession after 14 years.
Lucy Fey, who works at an inner city school in Bristol, posted the letter on social media attacking Mr Gove for focusing on targets and putting young children under "huge" pressure.
The experienced teacher handed in her notice because she could no longer watch those pupils failing to meet the expected standard in the three Rs of writing, reading and maths.
In the letter, she wrote: "There is nothing better than a class full of buzzing pupils, excited about what they are learning, taking ownership of the lesson.
"This is becoming increasingly hard to achieve when we expect so much from them. There is little time to have fun, to enquire, to be intrigued, to be children. They have too much pressure. They must, 'compete with the world's best'.
"Why are we not letting them grow as individuals? Why are we damaging their self-esteem and confidence by trying to make them all fit into the same box?
"To ensure a successful future for our country we need to give children a broad, balanced curriculum which enables everyone to excel at what they are good at.
"They need to feel empowered and valued for their individual skills to be able to take risks and push the boundaries to be successful. How is that possible if they have had a restricted education?
"How will all those talented people who are not necessarily 'academic' excel in their different industries if they were not given the opportunity to hone their skills throughout their education?
"How will this improve our country? What sort of adults will they turn in to? I know I never had those pressures when I was a child.
"I handed my notice in last week. I can't do this to them anymore."
The letter was published on the Facebook page of the Teacher Roar group, which is aimed at hosting material opposed to the policies of Mr Gove.
Ms Fey said teachers were now expected to act as councillors, behaviour specialists, social workers and mental health workers, all without any formal training.
"Until recently, I was not adept at data analysis. I now know that the pupils we are teaching are not simply children, they are numbers, percentages," she said.
"The hours I have spent analysing data to decide which children need intensive afternoon intervention groups, those who need that extra 'boost.'
"Those children do not take part in the afternoon history, geography, art, science, music, PE or RE lessons as they are struggling with maths, reading and writing.
"They understand that they must miss out on subjects they are more likely to engage with, feel confident in, so they have the opportunity to achieve the required level in writing, reading and maths.
"They spend all day, every day struggling. Slowly feeling more and more like a failure, becoming more and more disengaged.
"It is amazing that every one of my pupils knows what level they are working at and what level they need to be at the end of the year.
"Children are so desperate to achieve and to please others that they naturally put themselves under a huge amount of pressure.
"If they are not working at age related expectations they believe they are not doing well despite the amazing progress they have made. They are in tears. They feel the pressure.
"They know they are not where they 'should' be. They know already, at primary school, that they may not be 'successful' in the future.
"They know that the only subjects worth anything are reading, writing and maths. They know that their options are limited."
A Department for Education spokesman said: "We make no apology for expecting all children to leave primary school with a good standard of reading, writing and maths so that they can thrive at secondary school.
"We are determined to eradicate illiteracy and innumeracy and it is vital we continue to set high aspirations for all schools and pupils. All the evidence shows that if you start behind, you stay behind."