Guerrillamum's Blog

Buns at Prep anyone?

On the subject of restraining pupils and bullying, the Minister for Education says “At the moment if you want to become au fait with what this department thinks on how to keep order in class you have to read the equivalent of War and Peace. There is about 500 pages of guidance on discipline and another 500 pages on bullying. We will clarify and shrink that.’’ See the article here:

I would be much more reassured by the Minister if his motives for change were based on actually improving discipline in schools and on reducing bullying rather than in reducing paperwork and the pages of guidance on how teachers should deal with it. These are complex issues, and I’m GLAD there’s a lot of guidance about them. The abiding impression that the Minister leaves us with is that he is fed up with the amount of guidance on bullying and there is too much of it. It’s inconvenient. Furthermore, the Minister is inviting a world of difficulty if he goes ahead and muddies the waters in terms of appropriate touching of pupils by staff. Some teachers might not be properly qualified ‘Free Schools might not use qualified teachers’ – Guardian 28th Sept – and the Government aims to reduce the need to have Criminal Records Bureau checks.

These actions will be very much to the detriment of our children whilst the government tells us that what they are doing is for our own good.

I can’t help but think the Minister is living in a Billy Bunter world of Jennings and schoolboy detectives where the Masters, invariably male and pipe-smoking, keep order by raising an eyebrow in the direction of the ‘miscreant’. The raising of the eyebrow implies a full range of punishments, many of which involve pain being inflicted after which there would no doubt be a hug from Matron!

It’s a far cry from the reality of modern schools in Britain. Not all teachers are huge or would be keen to step between students who are fighting, or for that matter, physically eject someone from their room, when that room is full of other students, desks, bags and the student is physically bigger than them.

Last week I saw a very slightly built male teacher verbally take to task six hulking Year 11s in my children’s school. Five minutes later I passed by again and he was still talking to the boys, who looked very shamefaced. This school is built on discipline and mutual respect. Teachers do not restrain pupils and I firmly believe it is possible to have schools like this but this becomes much less possible when you create a two tier education system.

If this is to be part of a new deal for teachers, then why on earth did the Minister not announce it at the Teachers’ conference? Doesn’t a ‘deal’ have two sides to it? He is clearly not interested in what the teachers think. This is something that is being done to teachers, not with teachers. One can only conclude that the Minister has his own reasons for wishing to bring about these changes.

Buns at Prep anyone?