From the Consultation on Integrated Communities:
Question 7. The Green Paper proposes measures to ensure that all children and young people are prepared for life in modern Britain and have the opportunity for meaningful social mixing with those from different backgrounds. Do you agree with this approach?
From reports in the press, we see that parents have got to the point where they feel they have no choice but to withdraw their children from schools on account of the bullying. Families are bored of the cant about schools managing bullying. They know it doesn't happen, that their children are suffering and that the only way to protect their children is to speak with their feet.
We need to start being properly creative about educational provision. Look how Finland has done so well in the educational tables recently by thinking outside the box, NOT forcing children to do more and more work until they become completely disaffected and quite possibly take out their frustrations by bullying others. Instead the Finnish schooling system reduces the number of exams, tests and hours worked, and allows young people to learn in a respectful, genuinely nurturing space.
Despite doing far fewer hours in school, these young Finns speak a number of languages other than their own fluently. It would be worth finding out how that is done as this could doubtless help with integration.
Continuing in the vein of reducing pressures to enable good learning, we should consider raising the age at which schooling is compulsory. It is clear that a later start actually advantages learners and generations of home educators who have not been forced to read from too young an age can now testify to the fact that learning to read later, anything from age 8 to 13 does NOT limit them in any way, and in fact, later readers often have extremely high reading levels and achieve this in the space of a couple of months. ie: they start to learn to read when they are ready and learn extremely quickly as a result.
We should also be considering altering the timing of the school day to suit the users. Most teens function far more effectively later in the day than most adults, a hangover from our evolutionary past which means that genes alter the teen body clock so that they can stay up all night to protect the tribe. We really are missing a trick here, as we could massively improve outcomes if we just were a little bit creative about altering start and finish times of the school day:
This may be an American site, but the argument holds eg:
"When Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming shifted its start time to 8:55 a.m., the number of car crashes involving teenage drivers dropped by 70%
Switching middle school start times by 30 minutes or more to after 8 a.m. in Wake County, NC was associated with increased math and reading test scores, with disadvantaged students benefiting most.
A study at the US Air Force Academy showed first-year students starting classes after 8 a.m. performed better not only in their first classes but throughout the day.
A report published by The Brookings Institution associated a significant increase in test scores with later middle and high school start times, with benefits roughly twice as great in disadvantaged students.
The Brookings report also estimated that later high school start times create a lifetime earnings gain of $17,500 per student with a school system cost of $0.00 to $1,950 per student, a benefit-to-cost ratio of 9:1 or better."
When you take the pressure off children in this sort of a way, whilst still maintaining an advisory role, bullying is also dramatically reduced.
Furthermore, adults, teachers and schools would in this way actually provide a genuine example of a tolerant, nurturing, enabling society instead of one that is based on one-upmanship and ruthless competition which so often results in bullying.
But we needn't limit our vision to what we can do about changing the school environment for the better. We should also looking to make Education Other than at School (EOTAS) a far bigger and better and brighter thing than it is now. We should be looking to models of how to do it that blend all manner of influences,
Red Balloon of the Air
Mixing this with wisdoms from Finnish Education.
As regards children going missing once they have either been excluded or have deregistered, schools are already required to notify local authorities of the removal of the child from the school roll, so the whereabouts of the child should not be a mystery. The notification process just has to happen on a more reliable basis.
If a child is placed in an unregistered school, and Ofsted cannot deal with it, either social work teams - in the case of a child at risk of abuse, or the LA Education Officer - in the case of a child who is not in receipt of a suitable education, already has sufficient legislative powers to deal with this situation. Give social work teams more money to cope with their workload. Don't bother chasing law abiding HEors until you have sufficient resources to be dealing with the likes of Rotherham, Rochdale, Telford, Derby and Oxford.