Monday, November 14, 2011

A Menace To Society

Sprog #1 is a teacher in a primary school in south west London. Her intake this year is a barely socialised rabble of five and six year olds, many of whom have difficulty with things like going to the toilet, getting dressed, eating at the table and so on. The class also includes a small group of boys prone to bouts of quite extreme violence, which, when allied to hair-line tempers, does not make for an easy time. Fights are common, and we're not talking a bit of pushing and shoving. The parents are often as feral as the children, and most weeks the school ends up having to call the police to remove parents who are aggressive or violent at the school.

This week one of the kids got into a fight on three separate occasions. When the kid was removed from the class and sent to the headmistress there was at least some expectation that at the third fight of the week some sanction could be applied. Ten minutes with the headmistress and the kid was back in the classroom, with a pile of play-dough to keep him happy. My daughter expressed her displeasure and demanded that something be done. At the very least the kid should miss play-time. No, the headmistress countered, the child could miss two or three minutes of play-time. Any more, the headmistress continued, would be to infringe on the child's human rights.

Nope, I kid you not. The headmistress really did say that, and she was being dead serious. To say that my daughter was incredulous is to understate things. So, a kid who is repeatedly violent and disruptive cannot miss out of play-time because it infringes his human rights. The teacher has no other sanction. None.

What about the human rights of the kids on the receiving end of the violence? Or the human rights of the whole class? Or even the human rights of the staff? None of those matter. What matters is the human rights of the a child who is violent and disruptive. Indeed, what about his human right to an education?

This child, and the others like him, runs riot at home and school. His parents don't care or can't control him. School is the one place that ought to be able to help him learn that he cannot carry on like that. But no, this headmistress, and the rest of her senior staff, will not help that kid at all. Better to let him trash the place then to impose some form of discipline - even of the mildest sort, such as missing play-time.

What does that kid learn? That being disruptive means you get to play with extra stuff and that there's no down-side. What do the other kids learn? That there's no profit in being good. And what does my daughter learn? That she's in the wrong school and that she can't help these kids, so has to leave for a better school.

This headmistress is a menace to society, as are the others like her, both in schools and in the education system as a whole. She does a disservice to all, including the kids who can't control themselves. She's making sure that the kids in her care are sabotaged in their education, trapped by their circumstances and the misfortune to be born poor in that part of London.

Two of our kids have gone through the system and the third is still working his way through secondary school. We've seen some great teaching and some good schools in the state system. But what we see, year on year, is a steady deterioration. And we look and we despair when we see what's going on.

It's not just the schools, what we see and hear about the next generation of kids, the ones in primary school now, really does scare the hell out of us.


Anonymous said...

It is not just this headteacher. It is the judiciary and the HRA. Thank you Tony Blair you shallow little sh*t.

Contrarian said...

Education, education, education...