Thanks? No thanks: Why only 1 teacher received a thank you letter from the education secretary


The government has written one thank-you letter to a retired teacher in the past four years, despite launching a campaign to reward their contribution.

The Department for Education (DfE) unveiled a scheme in 2012 in which outgoing teachers who made an “exceptional contribution to education” could be nominated for a personal letter of thanks from the education secretary.

But a Freedom of Information request reveals that the government received just four nominations from 2013 to 2015 – and only one letter of thanks was sent.

Thank-you letters may be “the last thing they would wish to see on their retirement”

However, interest in the project has picked up this year with eight nominations submitted. The department said seven were now under active consideration. One was turned down.

The department did not provide an explanation as to why there had been a spike in nominations, but it updated its thank-you letter webpage at the end of last month for the first time since 2012, which prompted a notification to subscribers of alerts.

A government spokesperson said the update was simply to add Justine Greening’s name to the page, in place of former education secretary Nicky Morgan.

The department would not comment on why three of the four initial letters were rejected.

However, Avis Gilmore, assistant general secretary at the National Union of Teachers, said the low take-up could be because many teachers held the DfE responsible for issues such as low morale, excessive workload and “rushed and ill-thought-out” initiatives.

Gilmore said that, for some, the thank-you letters may be “the last thing they would wish to see on their retirement”.

The DfE guidance suggests nominees could be teachers who have held after-school and weekend classes, been involved in education in the community, or helped to turn round a failing school.

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