Tories and Labour both to blame for driving our teachers away | Latters

Catherine Stirling-Reed blames all governments for the ruinous approach to education, Carl Gavin on why he and his wife decided to teach abroad, and Lydia Bain on some teachers’ frustrations

I think your article (Refuge abroad: ‘I will never return to teach in England’, 2 October) is extremely pertinent and correct in its claims, but I take issue with Mary Bousted’s assertion that the toxic mix of factors comes from this government.

I retired from teaching after 30-odd years seven years ago – before the present government – and can tell you that the “toxic factors” were well in place at that time and had been accruing for the previous 20 years under all governments.

The article is correct in that there are long hours, constant appraisal, and constant changes in priorities, curricula etc. Added to this is the growth in management and direction – usually issued from on high by those who want to and those who have “escaped” classroom teaching. Mary Bousted can certainly blame the non-educational management system in education on the Thatcher years, but Labour is equally to blame for changes, irrelevant ideologies and continuation of management practices.

At present my son, a teacher of English in a comprehensive in England for four years, is in Hong Kong at an international school where he can teach and partake in extracurricular education without the exhaustion and discipline problems of teaching in the UK. He is happy, confident and positive.
Catherine Stirling-Reed
Herstmonceux, East Sussex

• My wife and I left the UK education system in 1999. In the 19 years that we have been away, we have worked in China, Thailand, Bahrain and Malaysia. We have bought two houses in the UK and have had two daughters, both born in Bangkok. We travel to the UK to visit family twice a year but never have we considered going “home” to teach. We are still in contact with friends who taught with us in the 90s, in London. Many have given up and a few are trying desperately to get to retirement age. All of them tell us they wish they had done what we did, when we did.
Carl Gavin
Bangkok, Thailand

• My son and his wife packed in teaching because they were frustrated at every step (London classroom crisis: New teachers rapidly quit, 5 October). They wanted £1,200 for materials for O-level students and, because they were told there was no money, spent time dismantling old projects to scavenge pieces to use. When the school accounts came out, the head and the next level of management had been given increases of thousands of pounds, so they knew where the money for the children’s materials went.
Lydia Bain
Stevenston, North Ayrshire

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