Friday, April 08, 2005

Improving Truancy

Shame on you Sir David Normington, Permanent Secretary to the Department of Education and Skills. I was watching you. You might think you can get away with this but I taped you and I heard you saying at the meeting of the Select Committee (Public Accounts), of 28th Feb, that education in school is compulsory from ages 5 to 16, which of course, is is is NOT. You, of all people, should know this.

The debate was amusingly accidentally entitled, probably by the Beeb: "Improving Truancy." As home educators, we would, if this was really the aim of the debate, have been very happy to have joined in. As it was, the debate was really about improving school attendance, a debate which would benefit from the wider scope of the HE perspective, but from which most HEers would shy since we have no desire to be confused with truants.

Anyway, why can't we improve truancy? This seems to me to be the first good idea the Beeb has come up with in a long time. The theme of getting them all back to school was thoroughly depressing, infuriating in its lack of imagination, and predictably useless. School inattendance, despite all the huge sums of money poured into the truancy sweeps, remains almost exactly the same over the last decade with some 450,000 pupils staying away on the average day.

As a side issue, the Chairman tried to insist that the Dfes make it categorically impossible for parents to take their children out of school for holidays. How is that these idiots cannot realise that little Johnny's sojourn in San Giminiano will be far more informative and educational than any year long collection of geography lessons? You can learn far more about the geo-politics of the Middle East for example, in a month of nearly being conscripted into various armies and getting food poisoning than you ever can sitting in a boring, boring classroom where the relevance of all these problems seems so remote.

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