Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Good Man

This was sent into me by the parent of a pupil at the school concerned. Cut and paste it into your browser as it is a long link which causes prob;ems and I don't know hoe to'wrap' it yet. Many thanks to Liam for taking the trouble to write in and tell me how to rescue my sidebar.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/threecounties/content/articles
/2006/10/11/stgeorges_harpenden_drugs_feature.shtml

Mr. Hoare has acted beyond his jurisdiction and interfered in the lives of his pupils outside the school gates. According to a barrister I spoke to; he will almost certainly be overturned if the pupils' parents decide to take the school to court, so it could turn out to be a very rash action.

However, in my opinion he has done something that few are brave enough to do. He has taken a stand for what he believes to be right and acted accordingly. He could have taken the easy way out and simply ignored what they had done and minded his own business, but he did not. He actually did something himself.

He gets my applause for what it's worth. I only wish the Headmaster at my school had been more like him.

28 comments:

Peter said...

I find this one a trifle tricky. The question I would like to ask Mr Hoare is whether he would have expelled a 15 year old he discovered had been drinking alcohol illegally. I don't have a problem with school rules extending beyond the school boundaries (indeed, I think it is probably an admirable idea) but, if you're going to do that then consistency is important.

Stu Savory said...

If Mr. Hoare himself gets snapped by a speed camera, will he be sent down for trying to pull a fast one?

Anonymous said...

I only wish we had a Headmaster at all. Oh.. hang on, we do. I just hadn't noticed him doing anything other than hiding in his office all day and having meetings with the rest of the useless layabouts in SLT.

Jez B said...

Good on that bloke. He might be in the wrong but at least he's tried which is a hell of a lot more than most do.

ps great book!

shawsy said...

very difficult.
my heart says he's done a great thing and is a brave man, my head says where do you draw the line?
the tragedy is that parents and the police aren't more active in this area, and that the media has peddled a soft line on drugs that kids have bought.

personally, as a libertarian, i believe drugs should be legalised, by the way, but i don't make the rules and while we have them they should be enforced (an odd thing for a libertarian to say - but then i'm a real world sort of libertarian).

Tattieheid said...

I think his approach is unwise, ill-considered and stupid. I agree with the barrister that this will get overturned if any pupils or their parents take it to court. I hope someone does.

This happened outwith school and outwith school hours, therefore it's a matter for the police, interesting to note there is no information as to police charges etc sounds to me like they saw him coming and passed the buck double quick.

All this will do is muddy the waters and make it harder for him to deal with events arising at school/during school hours. It will alienate the pupils who are likely to view teachers with even more distrust in future and also demonstrates a lack of understanding of the issues of drug/alcohol misuse and young people.

Does he take the same firm stance with unruly pupils within the school? I doubt it, because his hands will be tied by political correctness.

We do need to free our teachers and our schools to deal with so many issues that have arisen with "political correctness" but it has to be within context and specific parameters - this isn't and a well intentioned head will probably learn the hard way.

sisyphus said...

One of my friends has children at the school where Mr Hoare (known affectionately as Stormin Norman) is the head. The irony is that this unreconstructed Thatcherite seems to have behaved like a New Labour luvvie, micro-management moralism taking responsibility for every aspect of his students' lives outside the school's jurisdiction. Remember, these alleged "offences" took place in local parks during the school summer holidays.

One wonders if Mr Hoare consulted m'learned friend? If so, he might have been advised that unilateral expulsion (yet to be ratified by the governing body) could be a high-risk strategy. On 31 August 2006 Mr Justice Beatson ruled in the High Court that Birmingham city council had acted unlawfully in upholding the decision of a Birmingham school to expel two pupils for taking cannabis (in the school grounds). He also ruled that the council had acted unreasonably in not following government guidelines which suggested that pupils should not normally be expelled for minor drug offences. The case has been referred back to the school's independent appeal panel. Birmingham city council has not appealed this decision.

Ironic footnote: an advertisement appears on page 42 of this week's Herts Advertiser from St George's School, Harpenden, inviting applications from members of the public to join the school's independent appeal panel. Barrack room lawyers especially welcome; looks as if they might be busy.

Almost American said...

If this was a school that the kids were required to attend, that would be one thing but, given that it's a boarding school, clearly the families involved made a deliberate choice to send their children there. Therefore they agreed to play by the school's rules or accept the consequences. Every private school I've worked at has had the same kind of policy (tho enforcement is often inconsistent!) Of course if it's a state school and the kids are told by the local authority which school they have to go to, then that's a different kettle of fish altogether.

sisyphus said...

Clarification for recent poster "almost american" - St George's School is a voluntary aided (i.e. 75% funded by Herts County Council/government) non selective day school with two boarding houses for children from overseas. Remember, the alleged "offences" took place in local parks during the summer holidays when the overseas boarders would have been back home.
Until about 35 years ago St George's was a private school and sometimes some parents say they think it still is. Maybe that's at the heart of the school's strict disclipinary code?

Anonymous said...

We need more Heads with this courage. good for him, wish he was our Head.

feteacher said...

If this chap is wrong then Charles Dickens is more right than ever: “the law is a ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, ...the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.”

The parents of the doped up kids might have an argument, but I bet the parents of the other kids would be glad to have those kids and their influence removed.

Part of the problem is that many of those who should be enforcing rules and laws are guilty of having broken them themselves - and punishing guilt in another then becomes harder.

sisyphus said...

tattieheid made a good point: this should be a matter for the police -looks like they saw him coming and passed the buck. The head said in his radio interview that the local force was right behind him. "Right behind him" I thought? Those brave upholders and enforcers of the law should have been out there ahead of him! We've all given very
generously, albeit not freely, to the police benevolent fund i.e. paying for a squadron of PCSOs. What are they there for if not to keep order at the teenagers'
playground (skatepark) and tell them off if they are naughty, and anyway it's surrounded by
CCTV cameras.

Then I read the latest Coppersblog posting and it all became clear. The police have been trained to adopt a "victim-focused approach" based on a victim's perception of a crime having taken place, rather than an "evidential approach" based on the police obtaining evidence of a crime having been committed.

Here's the conundrum: in the case of the teenage spliff smokers the "victims" and the "offenders" are one and the same. Based on the above explanation, the police have to give priority to the "victims" of their own alleged crimes. Has the world gone completely mad or is it just me who's missed the bus?

Anon. said...

I can fully appreciate why most people here feel that Mr Hoare acted outside of his jurisdiction - but it's better that he protects the other 1100 pupils by removing the offenders from the school.

Seven years ago, one of my best friends got into drug dealing. He had been introduced to drugs by another pupil at school and only ever took cannabis. All very innocent and harmless isn't it???

Until one night he went to make a deal - outside of school hours and away from school property - by the river in Exeter. Something went wrong with the deal and he was attacked. For the sake of your children, please picture this. The dealer he was meeting pulled his hoodie over his head, clubbed him with a claw hammer, mashing his skull and brain and dumped him in the canal, while he was still alive. He was 16.

To any parent who has lost a child through drugs, there is never an excuse and it's never ok. In the eyes of the law, perhaps Mr Hoare was wrong, but if his actions save other pupils from drugs, debt and maybe even from being murdered or from an overdose, then it's totally worth it.

See: http://www.free-webspace.biz/thevictims/mortimer_george.html

anon. said...

The above link (and the link through "anon." is: http://www.free-webspace.biz/
thevictims/mortimer_george.html

a**nonymous said...

Interesting article. Three children expelled and thirteen suspended. Yet the headmaster says he's taken action against seventeen pupils. Clearly he's not a maths teacher.

I'm currently reading PC Copperfield's book, so the news that 'the police have been totally co-operative' comes as no surprise when you consider how many 'detections' this might add to Hertfordshire Constabulary's crime figures. They must be rubbing their hands with glee.

Personally, in this case, I think it's bang out of order for the head to do this. Unless, as a previous comment mentions, he checks up on, and takes action against, any pupils who drink alcohol under age.

I would bet a large sum of money that many more of his pupils will already be using alcohol as well as 'trying the filthy stuff', to use his expression.

Steve Gi said...

Good on him. He's got guts which is more than most of them have.

(I'm not a teacher, just a concerned parent)

Cathi said...

Doesn't it depend? If he's been announcing in assembly and/or saying to parents "drug users are not tolerated at this school, if students are caught they are out, whether they are caught at school or not" I would go right along with it. I don't have a problem with school rules extending beyond school gates.

Admittedly the students will be commmitting other offences - under-age smoking, drinking, burglary, taking-and-driving-away or even worse. But it's not wrong of the Head to focus on one issue if that's a priority for the school.

Anonymous said...

It's no use asking "What is he doing about such and such a problem?" because we don't know.

At least he has done something about one problem, which beats my Head 1-0

normal bloke said...

i presume we all agree that all drugs are harmful, to a greater or lesser extent?
the psychoactives impair brain function in the short and possibly medium/long terms, ecstasy, amphet and coke affect memory and cause behavioural issues, heroin - well, have you ever taken it? it's not conducive to regular attendance at school, that's for sure. alcohol, legal as it is, is not good for kids either.

taking anything WILL have a knock-on effect on schoolwork, behaviour and general 'life chances'. it is unlikely not to affect children who don't indulge, since no 14-year-old is an island.

this head is to be applauded., he'll be stitched up, of course, but for at least trying to stop the rot he gets my vote.

GweiMui said...

it's not that clear cut.
Fine to protect the rest of the students, but for god sake there are now13-17 highly susceptible individuals left without support.

Whilst I was working(teaching?/crowd control) for the now defunct YTS scheme in the U.K

Alcoholism & drug taking was at it's worse with this group of individuals.(yes you could always find the gin/vodka in the cisterns of the girls toilets)
There were some good kids that had been dragged down by difficult situations and thrown out by the various education systems, and god help you if you were lucky enougth to find a parent.

Yes fine some were real nasty pieces of work, but in a significant number of cases there was still something deep down.

Out of a 'class' of 30 we managed to help 5 out of drug experimentation , we lost a further 3 that started off on "grass" then progressed to heroin.
usually they dropped out of the classes or fell under the influence of other people.
in the end I had to get out , you work with these kids for a year or more, and it broke your heart to find out they died in some shit hole drug hangout because they had no one to turn to for support.

katy p said...

that's all very well, gweimui.
the problem is, it's the trying to help and understand kids like this that has allowed the problem to get as bad as it has.

old saying: you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
these days, we seem to be living in a sort of monty python-esque 'every child is sacred' parallel universe.

every child is NOT sacred, some kids have to fall by the wayside and we have to let that happen for the sake of everyone else.

we can either have mediocrity ruling or we can lose a small percentage of the population and work on those that care about themselves and their lives.

it sounds hard but that doesn't mean it's not true.

Genghis said...

Absolutely, Katy P, I couldn't agree more, well said!
It all sounds so plausible and, well, nice, doesn't it? "Every child matters" "A lot of these kids come from chaotic backgrounds"
"These kids are being let down by the system", "Shakira has anger management issues" (I just love that one!)etc, etc, ad infinitum.
There is a
trite 'reason', 'explanation', sydrome or condition to validate every piece of violent, ignorant, destructive, antisocial behaviour these days. No one, it seems, is actually responsible for anything they do or don't do anymore except, of course, teachers, who are responsible for everything:
A pupil doesn't achieve their (laughable) "predicted Grade" (based on fake, manipulated KS2 and KS3 figures)at GCSE? The teacher's fault:
A pupil throws a chair across a room, verbally and physically assaults a teacher? The teacher MUST have done something to provoke Jordan (like, maybe, asking him to finish his 'phone call and pay attention to the lesson, perhaps?):
Pupils don't reach the "national average" curriculum level at the end of KS3? Yep, you guessed it, the teacher's fault (whether or not said pupils have actually done any work or even have the ability in the first place or not; see the GCSE point above).
If it seems like I'm angry, bitter and despairing......it's becuause I am.

Anonymous said...

I wasa a pupil at this school until june this year. It is very clearly stated in the school's rules that action will be taken if a pupil uses illegal drugs, even during the holidays. This is regularly reinforced, and every year pupils must sign an agreement to say that they have read the rules and agree with them. Thses pupils knew what could happen to them, but they probably thought that they could get away with it.

Norman has my full support in this matter, and has always been a controversial figure that is not frightened to speak his mind. However, he is fair, and is generally well-respected within the school.

Also, despite only being 75% funded, it is NOT a fee paying school- the parents can donate as much or as little as the wish.

Anonymous said...

I remember when I was at school (back in the '70s) some pupils at our local grammar were disciplined after being caught drinking in a pub one Friday night. They were all 18 so had done nothing illegal - the teacher who caught them seemed to think he could dictate what they did in their own time simply because they hadn't yet left school. Needless to say their parents kicked up a bit of a stink and the teacher ended up having to apologise. However, this matter is different as the students in question have committed an offence but I think suspension for all the students involved (pending police enquiries) would have been more appropriate than expulsion.

Wired Angel said...

Is Mr. Chalk's message a little muddled?

On the one hand, he sees nothing wrong with a teacher taking kids to a pub and allowing them to drink alcohol.

On the other, he praises a headmaster for expelling kids who took drugs during school holidays, outside of school grounds.

Perhaps if the Head had dealt the drugs, there wouldn't have been a problem?

Anonymous said...

If I was one of the parents I would be pleased that at least my childs Head was on my side in respect of the misuse of drugs. No half decent parent can want their children involved in drugs. As for the other parents involved well.............

Ellen said...

I hope the parents of these pupils appeal because the school won't have a leg to stand on. The school cannot dictate what pupils do out of school in their own time. Next they will be kicking out 18 year old sixth-formers for getting drunk on a saturday night. The school was totally out of order.

James said...

In his position, I believe I would have gone straight to the nearest police station and given them the names and addresses of the students in question, and worry about their continued attendence at the school after they had been brought to trial. After all, what's he going to do if any of the excluded pupils are acquitted?