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« Do corporations pay tax? | Main | First entry »
Tuesday
Nov072006

Politics in school

I'm currently girding my loins to have it out with my daughter's teacher. The school, a state primary, is generally held to be a good one and has had an excellent write up from the inspectors, two factors which together do absolutely nothing to dent my scepticism about the quality of the education it provides. Having myself been the product of a state secondary which had a good reputation and an excellent write up from the inspectors, I know better than to put much weight on the first and any weight at all on the second.

My daughter is a voracious reader. Now six, she is consuming books at a frightening rate and we are certainly struggling to find suitable things for her to read. As is the school. The problem is that the school has responded by doing precisely nothing. They have continued to supply her with picture books for new readers and suggest she reads ten pages twice a week. So the daughter reads the whole thing in five minutes and ends up feeling cheated.

And if that wasn't bad enough the whole curriculum seems to have been written by an alliance of woolly liberal types. Multi-culti this, and wierdy beardy that. Half of the day seems to be spent learning about recycling and emptying the compost bucket from the staffroom. And it doesn't seem to get any better in later years. At the school assembly we were treated to a presentation from the Primary Sevens about the virtues of Fairtrade - all about not giving in to greed and so on.

Now both greens and fairtraders may have wonderful intentions. (We can argue about whether they are going to achieve any of their objectives or if, as usually happens with weird beard types, they actually end up making things worse). But there can be no doubt that these are questions of economics and politics which are entirely out of place in the classroom. I want a school which teaches children how to think, not what to think.

The Bishop is on the warpath. 

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Reader Comments (4)

Bishop, that's how it is. You will be unable to change it. It is mandatory, enforced by OFSTED.

A 'good school' in an inspection report is not much to do with the quality of the school, and much to do with how it follows the "One OFSTED way". Most teachers hate it as much as you do.

My son had exactly the same "reading problems" as your daughter. He was picking books from the school library that interested him and reading them ; they insisted that he work through "Chip and Biff are at the Supermarket" because they "weren't allowed" to do anything else.

He once got his own back (he was about 8). When listening to an extremely boring environmentalist, he picked up a copy of a newspaper that someone had left near him and started to read it. I think the teachers agreed with him as he wasn't punished and the teacher who told me this had a big smirk on her face.

The bad news for us is that the Secondary curriculum is arguably worse ; have a look at New Science, Geography, Citizenship or what laughably passes as Information Technology - for a start.

How do you fix it ? Go private (though this ***** interfering gov't is trying to micromanage them now)
Nov 8, 2006 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul
I had hoped that the Scottish schools might be better. I've seen some new science text books for the English National Curriculum and they are a mixture of the mickey mouse stuff and propaganda for the environmentalists. Unfortunately Scotland seems to be just as bad.

I think you're right about micromanagement in private schools. And the new charities arrangements should mean that fees go shooting through the roof. We're thinking of homeschooling.
Nov 8, 2006 at 1:39 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
Bishop,

When she's 13 they'll be teaching her about contraception - and supplying her with it too.

Then you'll yearn for the days when you only had to worry about whether she had adequate reading material...

Nov 9, 2006 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterGary Monro
That thought has occurred to me. We're thinking of homeschooling.
Nov 9, 2006 at 10:48 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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