Friday, February 10, 2006

Truth and Spin in the Education System

I have to admit to being slightly concerned as to school's minister Ms. Smith's take on the situation after reading this:

[she said that] it was easy to forget that pupil behaviour in the majority of schools was good for most of the time. "Ofsted has reported improvements in behaviour in our classrooms this year, rating it as satisfactory or better in 94% of secondary and 99% of primary schools," she said.

Ho hum. I am not clear whether this is simple political spin or genuine delusion. Either way, it doesn't seem accurate. From a previous post "Back to School Bullying":

"school 'bullying policies' are unable to prevent bullying. The great majority of bullying is not reported to teachers or noticed by them. A Canadian study videotaped children playing in a schoolyard and found that teachers were aware of only 17% of the bullying observed by the researchers. Of the incidents they did see, they only chose to intervene 23% of the time which gave an overall intervention rate of 3.9%."

I have to admit, we haven't spent much time recently with many schooled children. In fact we only saw one yesterday, so my overall perspective on this situation is hugely limited. But the thing is, this child is a kind, gentle, trustworthy teen who regularly cares for and plays with my child. My child loves this child and the relationship is tender, teasing, comical, fun. I love hearing those peels of giggles that my children emit when playing with this person. Yet in school she is hated by the other girls for the crime of being pretty. She has had her belongings repeatedly nicked and recently had her head bashed against a mirror in the girls' loos. She then lost her temper and slammed the ring leader's fingers in a loo door. The point of reporting this? Well, no teacher has any idea that any of this was going on, so how Ofsted claim to know what they are talking about is not immediately obvious, just from my one example.

And as a final point on this, outside of the school situation, this child is a fully functioning responsible, kind human being. In school she is forced to be something else altogether.

But back to Ms. Smith. Call me cynical but I'm tending towards the idea that her assertion above was a matter of spin, not least because it came in the context of proposing to extend the powers of teachers to deal with poor behaviour, this time outside the school gates.

Given that teachers appear to be failing to cope with the situation inside the school gates, it looks like another hopeless, delusional proposal.


Anonymous said...

I know teachers in that particular school and would say that they do know, at least, that this kind of thing is going on. They feel that keeping control (when managed) when they are present is already enough of a challenge. They're probably relieved when it happens out of sight as it looks less like a poor reflection on their authority.

The general feeling in such schools seems to be that there is a limit to what teachers can do with this sort of violence as it seems, ito, to be more to do with the area, poverty level, and behaviour of parents.

All in all, that particular school is a lot better than many others 'poor schools' on the whole.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how this country is so developed with such dysfunctional schooling. :(

Carlotta said...

Hi anon,

I bet teachers can guess at what is going on, but I doubt they go telling the Ofsted officers, given that their jobs are on the line, so Ms Smith can apparently honestly say the things she does, and nothing really gets done.

Incidentally, I have personally seen appalling bullying in the most apparently priviledged and expensive schools, so am not sure that it has much to do with poverty, or some such cause. (I regularly saw mass mobbing and humiliation of boys at the boys private school. Junior boys reportedly had their heads stuffed down loos, happy slapping is just a new name for an old phenomenon that happened on a daily basis there, there were knifing incidents, and even a death from strangulation - and all this costing the parents a pretty packet...and all of it just going on as if it was not the outrage that it really was.

and Leo...It is clear that kids thrived because of the system, and some thrived despite it, but many, many others suffered needlessly, and many others could have done much, much better.

I therefore do think that this country would be a far better place were more children to be rescued from school, (when they don't want to be there.)

Anonymous said...

Yep! My intention wasn't to say that poverty was the cause; it seems, though, to be part of the perceived cause. It is also, ito, an excuse for not doing anything about it. However, there is no real excuse as there is a school down the road, with the same sort of intake, who have far, far fewer of those problems.

Those private schools sound just like any old state school of the time!! Although at least the parents didn't pay for that twice! However, private education undoubtedly did/does (?) give the students a 'passport' to better jobs... So all is not equal.