Friday, 24 August 2007

UK must tackle causes of educational breakdown

The recent murder of an 11 year old British school child by an as yet unknown 13-15 year old, has prompted the usual knee jerk response from government, which seemingly inevitably tackles the symptoms of the issue and not the causes.

The government's response is to tackle the problem after it has occurred, by excluding children from school, or by punishing the parents.

If the government instead chose to listen to it's own teachers and the British public, they would hear that they should really be tackling this problem at root, and not so many years late down the line.

Teachers are saying that teaching and performance measurement burdens are such that they cannot establish a "rapport" with children that enable them to establish when home circumstances are likely to lead to disruptive, anti-social and eventually criminal behaviour. The public also know what the government is in total denial about, that teacher authority has progressively been undermined in the classroom such that children now have more law "on their side" than do the teachers.

By under-spending or mis-spending the education budget this way, more stress is being placed on the budget of the Justice Department of the Home Office.

It is very well known that the best thing a teacher can do for children is teach them, not be bogged down by non-productive administration. Many European countries provide support assistants for teachers to enable them to concentrate on teaching, and the incidence of child crime seems much lower in the body of European states.

Also, clearly, there needs to be much better assessment of children and their attitudes to society in school. Perhaps there is a role here for social workers and even the police.

Finally, to restore authority to teachers, there should be video surveillance in problem classes such that teachers can prove their actions where needed, with the support of the law to counsel, support or even prosecute children who display anti-social behaviour.

Whatever action is taken in response to horrific crimes like these, it is lamentably overdue that the UK government starts tackling causes, and not just provide instant responses to appease the media and provide a "talking point".

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