Michael Gove
Michael Gove has been criticised for changing teaching policies at schools  Reuters

A primary school teacher has attacked Michael Gove in a scathing open letter to the education secretary explaining why she left her job.

Lucy Fey, who worked at a school in inner city Bristol for 14 years, resigned from her role because she believes Gove's change in polices meant she was not teaching children but crunching "numbers and percentages".

Fey said pressure on children to achieve high results on the 'Three Rs' – reading, writing and arithmetic – has meant schools are damaging pupils' self-esteem by "trying to make them all fit into the same box".

She added that some young children "already know that they may not be 'successful' in the future" because they are failing in these areas and this country does not offer a "broad, balanced curriculum" for pupils to excel.

She then asks: " 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 open letter to Gove, published on the Teacher Roar Facebook page, has gone viral on social media.

Responding to the criticism, a Department for Education spokesperson 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."

Open Letter in Full

"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."_

"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."

"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."