Sunday, September 24, 2006

Alan Johnson

The Education Secretary Alan Johnson (just what exactly does he know about education?) has announced that he is 'seriously considering' raising the school leaving age from 16 to 18 as there are too many kids leaving school unable to read, write or do simple sums.

Unfortunately Ashley, Dwayne and Leroy could stay at school until they were drawing old age pensions and they would still be unable to master these skills. This is because they do not want to learn such boring things and we have absolutely no means of making them do so.

His other proposal is to have schools opening on Saturday mornings. I can just imagine how the teachers will scramble to get into school for an extra three hours of mayhem with Ryan and Shane.

Forget these whacky ideas Alan. All we need is the power to discipline Nathan, Shazney and their awful parents.


Dave (Geog Bristol) said...

Can anybody seriously imagine staff wanting to go in on Saturdays?

We need a few less crazy half thought through ideas and a few more sanctions together with people willing to use them.

Stuart said...

My old private school used to have lessons on saturdays, used to be a total arse, i cannot see it working in the state sector (i moved from a stae secondary school to a private school after being expelled for being a nasty little barstard). Mr Chalk keep up the Blog, it is excellent.

Stuart said...

My old private school used to have lessons on saturdays, used to be a total arse, i cannot see it working in the state sector (i moved from a stae secondary school to a private school after being expelled for being a nasty little barstard). Mr Chalk keep up the Blog, it is excellent.

Stegbeetle said...

Never mind the problems of getting staff into schools for a Saturday morning. If they do go in they'll be sitting in empty classrooms as the type of kids who'd benefit most from it are exactly the type that you couldn't get there under any circumstances.

Tom Welsh said...

You are a BAD teacher and a BAD person, Frank. You said the "d" word - "discipline". Go wash your mouth out with soap.

It's a basic Nu Labour tenet that all people are exactly the same (except for ministers, of course, and cronies, all of whom are Super Special). Men are the same as women, criminals are the same as law-abiding citizens, police and teachers are NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE and so have NO RIGHT TO DICTATE TO THEIR EQUALS.

And, of course, children are just the same as adults - just smaller (usually). (Please don't be awkward by dragging in Shane who is 6 foot 5 and 15 stone). That's why it's WRONG TO HIT KIDS. Why can't you understand?

Jennyta said...

So Alan Johnson is obviously yet another alien from outer space then. Will there ever be an Education Secretary who is not?

Anonymous said...

Children shouldn't be able to read, write and do arithmetic by the time they are 18 or even 16, they should have mastered such things by the time they are 10 or 11.
Does anyone imagine the likes of Shane and Dwayne are going to actually show up.
Besides why not allow them to enjoy a couple of years of doing nothing and claiming benefit.
Their late teens are going to be the happiest time of their life, that idyllic period between playing truant and getting sent to jail.

Simon K said...

I've just posed on the earlier post, in response to 'Mary' asking why I wanted to give up teaching (in case anyone's interested).

This is just another reason why. Half-thought-through, 'eye catching initiatives' that sound great on paper but will never work.

Iv'e always voted Labour and 1997 was a happy year for me. Words can't express how disillusioned I am now. I would never vote Tory (I don't think) but I can't vote for this lot again.

Is there a party out there, anywhere, which says it will return discipline to schools, will stop fiddling around with teaching methods, will make exams worth the paper they're written on and will support teachers? If so, please let me know.

Education is seriously, seriously, seriously in crisis in this country. It used to be a ladder out for people from working class backgrounds, now - and unforgiveably, under a Labour government - the rungs have rotted away and it's just an illusion.

simon k said...

I 'posted', rather then 'posed' (though others may beg to differ).
And I know where the apostrophe goes in 'I've', unlike (rough guess, but would be very, very close, seriously) 98% of the kids I teach.

Julian said...

I think you get this point across very well in your book, which I loved by the way.

Some of the kids at my school are virtually illiterate and unteachable because they don't care, their parents don't care and the SMT don't care. It's so frustrating.

Shuggy said...

Yes I often think this would be a good idea. You can be confronted with a pupil who has managed to get through primary school and the compulsory years of secondary education with no other skill apart from an apparent ability to staple themselves to the furniture and think, "Ah but if I only had two more years, Jordan would blossom like an educational flower".

Apart from anything else, has it not occured to Mr Johnson that those of us who are secondary teachers actually don't know how to teach pupils to read? We were trained with the foolish assumption that our charges had been taught to do this already.

Anonymous said...

Calm down, everyone.

There'll doubtless be [yet] another education secretary in place before too long, and he/she will throw out this daft idea...

...and replace it with another, equally daft one.

paul said...

my daugyhter is five and has a reading age in the low teenage bracket. she's bright but she's not a genius. what she has had is her mum and me reading to her since she was a week old, and showing her books since then, too. pointing out words, explaining them blah blah.
she could read fluently before she even went to school, so it's not hard.
the problem is, lots of parents either don't have or won't find the time, and schools are a melting pot of PC rubbish, bad teaching methods and mixed ability kids.
at least, finally, they're going back to phonics - the mad decision to teach word recognition as a way to read has ruined a generation.

Genghis said...

Everyone seems to be forgetting about F.E. colleges. A great many of these estimable institutions perform an invaluable service to the community by allowing Sherelle, Jevon, Shaniece,Troy and company to spend those crucial extra two years receiving £30 a week to take GNVQ Car Valeting (no, I didn't make that up), practice form-filling (UB40, etc, I'm not making this up, either) and work tirelessly to maintain our country's much-envied position at the top of the single parent "family" league.

Tim said...

Wouldn't a much smarter idea be to allow those who are really turned off to leave school at 14? At the end of the day, we are only keeping them on for two years of misery for everyone, so they can fail all their GCSEs.

Perhaps we could save those two years for later (perhaps when they are in their thirties and their kids have flown the nest) and they could do those when they are older and regret being so awful when they were at school.

Stan Still said...

How about putting the two extra years at the beginning of the school career?

In fact, get these kids into full time education, away from home, before their failure ridden parents have chance to exert any influence on their offspring! How about six months old?

Mary said...

Actually, I really like Tim's idea about having the two "sixth form" years kind of on account for when they'll be best used.

David said...

Stick 'em in the Army sah! But wivawt any weapons sah! Now that we don't 'ave the famous irish navvy why not turn Wayne and his ilk into a Construction Corps from 16-18 and have them build roads, airports and anything else that will enable us to bury Labour politicians under tarmac? Cheap as chips, gets them away from trouble as they'll be in labour camps (might have to rename them Physical Exertion Centres...) and when the gate is locked at 8pm each night the pubs and streets will be empty and we can all go and have a pint with no worries! Bliss!

Ranting Teacher said...

I wouldn't mind working Saturday mornings if I could have 3 months off for the summer every year, and fortnight long half terms. Most of the sink groups would be far too hungover to turn up anyway.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I take great personal delight in paying £1500 a month to send my two children to a public school where they have lessons from 8:15 to 12:30 on Saturdays.

Mind you, part of that delight is because I know the staff there laugh their arses off every time New Labour say anything about schools. My kids do have lessons - but they are at a much more manageable pace, in classes of 15, and the targets are left for the gun club to deal with (which costs me an extra £15 a term, but it's worth every penny for the next time Bliar is in town. My six-year-old will be on the roof with a Lee-Enfield.)

If you want to copy public schools, then copy the stuff that makes them work: small classes; a fast track exit for troublemaking little bastards; lots and lots of outdoor PE and an attitude to discipline and health & safety that would make an LEA apparatchik have conniptions.

My own children are healthier, happier and making far better progress than any of the kids in my or my wife's schools.


Pogo said...

Am I the only one to make the connection between the apparent enthusiasm of HMG for raising the compulsary school age to 18 and the present unexpected increase in the unemployment figures?

Onyx said...

I teach across the pond and we see the same problems here with students and their lack of interest in their own education.

Saturday school here is reserved as a punishment and the teacher who takes that duty get extra pay.

There are no simple easy answers to this dilemma.

Keep up the good work Mr. Chalk!

steve said...

pogo: no you're not (though well said) - same with the huge increase in new illnesses foisted upon the medical profession, which are used to explain away bad behaviour or laziness while putting huge profits in the pockets of drug companies.

onyx: there is an easy answer, though it will take political courage and (in our case) the removal of the human rights act from our law (so you're right, it's not easy in practical terms).
we need to build another 200,000 prison places and get some judges in who understand that prison works, not as a means of rehabilitation but as a way of keeping scum off our streets.
this would have a threefold effect: 1) it would remove some of the bad influences on kids at the failing-school end of our market 2) it would act as a deterrent to some of those kids 3) it would sweep up some of those kids who, regrettably, are destined for crime. so they can't hang around school or the town centre, acting as a magnet for, and leading astray, younger kids.
we need to sack half of our teacher trainers and tear up their politically correct course plans and textbooks.
we need to sack half of our teachers (roughly). we also need to double teachers' pay to make the job more attractive to intelligent graduates, rather than the no-hopers who are currently entering the profession. as a free marketeer, this sticks in my craw, but it's a fact of life.
every school needs a strong head who believes in discipline. sin bins, enforced detentions, the cane etc - all need introducing or bringing back.
kids need a three strikes, you;re out rule. if they get a third warning, they're straight out of the school to some sort of military detention centre where they're beasted for a week. they come back after that and spend a week of their summer holidays in school catching up.
if they misbehave again, they're beasted for two weeks. and so on.
exams need to be given some relevance.
thick kids should no longer be forced to study french, but should be given vocational training plus help with the three rs.

OK, some of this is pie in the sky and it certainly couldn't be done instantly. but i tell you what - it would sort out education in the uk.

i'm taking bets on any of these measures appearing in the next tory manifesto, never mind labour's.
currently, 1000-1.

Blunt said...

the Tories are looking around for some policies...any policies...
so don't be surprised if your post is copied verbatim into their next manifesto.
If I were you I'd copyright it as soon as poss.

btw. great blog Frank

Genghis said...

Very well said, Steve!
I really recommend Frank's book, in the end he gives his plan for dealing with our failing "education system", a combination of these approaches would sort it out. However, I can't see any politician of any political stripe having the guts and honesty to even approach anywhere near this level of commitment to sorting things out.
My Head Teacher tells me that the noisesome, lying little weasels who daily insult me are in need of "extra support"! Indeed they are, and I would be more than happy to supply the rope!

Mark T said...

Education Vouchers and the ability to recruit teachers who haven't been to training college. And for that matter not in a union.

Quick Home Sale UK said...

Would this be possible? I just could not imagine. Tsk...

Quick Home Sale UK said...

I just cant get over this blog! How come its not updated anymore?