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HomecommentComment: Why Maria Townsend is right to quit Raynville Primary School

Comment: Why Maria Townsend is right to quit Raynville Primary School

In case you hadn’t heard, Maria Townsend is this summer quitting her position as headteacher at Bramley’s Raynville Primary School.

As reported in a national newspaper on Wednesday, she’s leaving, after 12 years of leadership, because of Government reforms which have ‘brought me to the point where I no longer want to continue in the profession I have felt so passionate about…’

Her passionate resignation letter – from a school rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted inspectors – has gone viral on Twitter. Check it out below:

She says the curriculum in now full of ‘unnecessary, ridiculous things that quite frankly they don’t need to know at their age…’

And she’s right. I have a nine-year-old child at a primary school in West Leeds. As a dad I’m very proud of him, of course. And all I ever ask of him is that he gives his best. I think that’s all you can ask of any child.

The demands on him are great. I’m no mathematician by any stretch (there’s a good reason I went into journalism as a career!) But I must confess I sometimes struggle with his maths homework. If I’m having to sit down and fathom it out I do wonder how they’re expecting kids to get through it. Maybe I’m just thick.

My son came home with a story the other week. He said the whole class had been doing maths and spent the entire day unsuccessfully trying to crack what was quite difficult maths theory. Apparently the brightest pupil in the class (who’s a real high flier) had become so frustrated and upset at the whole process that he/she had burst into tears.

This shouldn’t be happening at their ages. Life’s long and stressful enough when you get older!

It ties in with what his teachers – who I think are great – were saying at the last parents’ evening. They said they feared that the demands from Government were so high that there was a danger kids would get left behind.

For me, a good teacher is someone who can allow kids to reach their full potential, whatever that may be. It shouldn’t be about reaching unobtainably high levels. And that’s why I’m with Mrs Townsend when she says:

“Does an 11-year-old really need to have mastered the past progressive, the present perfect or how to use subjunctives?

“The new tests in year two and six are unbelievably tough … the Government having set the bar to an extent that many simply can’t get there by May 2016.”

Hands up those of you who, as adults, even know what a past progressive is? No? Well, get to the bottom of the class!

One thing’s clear, making classroom environments stressful for kids and reducing them to tears and turning teachers into target-driven robots isn’t the right way to develop kids’ minds. Of course I’m all for high standards, but they need to be realistic.

What a shame it takes things like losing good people like Maria Townsend to make this a talking point. How many more will follow her?


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