Education boss snubs

A RETIRED teacher who wants to see the word “fail” banned from classrooms has hit back after Education Secretary Ruth Kelly gave the idea “nought out of ten.

A RETIRED teacher who wants to see the word “fail” banned from classrooms has hit back after Education Secretary Ruth Kelly gave the idea “nought out of ten.”

Liz Beattie, from Ipswich, will put a motion to The Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) annual conference next week.

Along with Wesley Paxton, a colleague from Yorkshire, she will argue that some children are put off education for life after being told they are a failure in class.

The proposal reads: “Conference believes it is time to delete the word 'fail' from the educational vocabulary to be replaced with the concept of 'deferred success'.”


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But Ms Kelly said yesterday she thought the notion of “deferred success” instead of failure deserved “nought out of 10.”

Young people must learn about success and failure in order to prepare themselves for adult life, she said.

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The minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “For that particular proposal, I think I might give them nought out of 10.

“To be quite honest, I think it's really important for young people to grow up with the ability to get on and achieve, but also to find out what failure is.

“When young people grow up and enter the adult world they have to deal with success and failure, and education is about creating well-rounded young people who can deal with these sorts of situations.”

Last night, Mrs Beattie, who taught for more than 35 years, said: “I was disappointed that the Education Secretary was so dismissive of our motion to the PAT conference next week about failure and deferred success.

“Before she gives 'deferred success' nought out of ten it would help if she discovered what my colleague Wesley Paxton means by it.

“She might also remember that, when there are serious issues to be discussed, conference motions are often worded to stimulate debate and even disagreement.

“It makes lively discussion. Come to our conference on Thursday morning Ms Kelly - and hear our ideas in full.”

Jean Gemmell, PAT general secretary, also defended the ideas behind the motion and suggested that Ms Kelly was being “too simplistic.”

She said it was “unhelpful” and “unfortunate” that Ms Kelly was commenting on a motion which had not even been debated yet, and was therefore not yet PAT policy.

“It seems to me that Ruth's response is to the words of the motion, not what might be behind the words,” she said.

“It's easy to look at the words of the debate motion and be simplistic about it.

“Of course there are things that we all fail at and many of them don't matter.

“I fail at trying to play tennis - so I don't play tennis. We are talking about young people who struggle to read, write and can't relate to other people.

“These are things you cannot be allowed to fail at.”

However, Ms Gemmell backed Ms Kelly's view that children should be helped to understand success and failure to prepare them for later life.

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