Thursday, March 29, 2007


We are all simple creatures at heart. If doing something which is easily discovered, carries a severe penalty and the likelihood of that penalty being carried out is a certainty, then funnily enough we are less likely to do it than if there is no real deterrent.

The Government has spent a fortune on 'initiatives' to combat truancy. Todays figures show it might as well have been poured down the drain.

Whenever words like 'combat' are used to describe a new idea, with its suggestion of strong decisive action; you can be sure that it will be nothing of the sort.

I reckon the best thing to do would be to talk a bit tougher and start 'Waging War on Truancy'


Anonymous said...

New Labour have mastered the art at opting for the least effective solution for any problem in every sphere of private and public life.I know this is boring but it's true.

Anonymous said...

At the hellhole where I teach, there are a large number of classes where we hope pupils will play truant!
It's very common for teachers to scan the electronic registers to see if the very worst scumbags are not in, then you mught actually have a chance of conducting something approximating a real lesson.
Further, if you know a real arsewipe is in school but is truanting your lesson (in-school truancy is huge here, as it is in many schools), you tend not to mention it. Better them roaming the corridors than destroying your lesson. After all, it's not as if there's anything you can do about it when you have a Head Teacher who berates teachers IN FRONT OF PUPILS for even raising their voice to pupils!

Anonymous said...

New Labour suffers from many deficiencies, but two of the worst are its belief that setting targets and spending money are useful and virtuous in themselves. All too often, ministers seem to feel that if they diagnose a problem, describe what they think would be a solution, and provide masses of cash, they have done their bit.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The job of a government minister is to make things happen, whatever it takes.

Unsworth said...

Is the 'War on Truancy' going to be as ambitious and effective as that 'War on Terror' we've been hearing about? And how is the 'War' on Serious Crime getting on?

I've had enough of 'War on' from these morons.

Tom Welsh: I'd like to see a job description for the post of Minister. Does it include a requirement for a PhD in mendacity? Or maybe that's part of the 'person specification'.

Pogo said...

Chuck, you forgot the "war on drugs" - which we all know has been such a spectacular success...

jerym said...

Seriously what do you all suggest as a solution to it? Barring the kids from school is no good they dont want to be there in the first place.Sticking a mother in jail is only going to make things worse for the inevitable crop of younger siblings and they probably dont know where the father is anyway and any fine would`nt be paid. Over to you.From what I`ve heard from teachers I know barring head teachers would be a bloody good start.

Anonymous said...

"Seriously what do you all suggest as a solution to it?"

Truancy is one of the problems inherent in the idealistic vision of free education for all. Like it or not, many people feel that anything given free is not worth much. You don't get a lot of truancy from independent schools that charge £10K a year - the kids know that their parents have paid (and often scrimped) for them to be there. (Besides, many independent schools are boarding, and the kids wouldn't have anywhere to go).

The problem of keeping millions of kids in school, attending classes many of which are poor and do not interest them anyway, is insoluble. It is simply the wrong problem.

Education is not "free" anyway. The government takes huge sums of money away from all of us, and uses some of it to give the illusion that it is "Lady Bountiful". (The rest is thrown away). It would make far better sense to let taxpayers keep the money earmarked for education, and spend it on sending their children to whatever independent schools they liked and could afford.

Anonymous said...

The solution to truancy is obvious - give the kids a sound reason why they might want to be in school.
Something that would appeal to the sort of pupil who truants - I presume we're talking about less academically able/inclined kids here.
So why not give them lessons that would help them to learn a worthwhile trade (carpentry? mechanics?) rather than foistering English Lit, French and RE on them?
This would have the added benefit of ensuring that their more academically able classmates get a decent education in that the teacher will be able to focus his/her attention on them without having to deal with the disruptive elements when if/they do decide to turn up after getting bored of hanging around by the shops trying to intimidate passers-by into buying booze for them.
Of course, such a wide curriculum would surely be beyond the capabilities of your average comprehensive school. So why not have a system whereby academically able pupils go to one type of school, and the less able to another?
I think you can see where I'm heading here......

Anonymous said...

I read all these comments and wonder why teachers vote Labour...

Anonymous said...

I voted Labour. I once even foolishly voted New Labour, thinking that the "Labour" bit meant it still had some vestige of socialist principle.

The trouble with crime and punishment in this country is that the benefits always outweigh the risks. The chances of minor shoplifting, truanting, vandalism figuring on the local police force's radar are small to start with, but the chances of being apprehended, tried and given a meaningful punishment are negligible.

I have always maintained that it is not the degree of punishment that is effective; it is the absolute inevitability of it that deters. Especially if a few innocent cases get punished by mistake as well. If every time a child truanted, its parents were fined - small cash fines, not taken at 20p a week out of benefits until they can't be bothered anymore; no arguments, no investigation - I'm pretty sure the truancy rate would drop.

Though unlike some of you, the worst little toerags I get never seem to be ill or absent, presumably because their parents don't want them at home any more than I want them in class.

JRD168 said...

I've always voted Labour, and probably always will. I also teach in a city comp. It can be bad, but it ain't as bad as some say here. Yes, give the kids some reason to be in school. But, if you are a teacher give them some reason to be in your lesson, and take responsibility for the behaviour in your classroom. Ring home every now and again, set detentions and follow them up. Kids are simple creatures, it ain't that difficult to keep them generally in line.

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? We have scores of kids who "don't do detentions" and get their parents to back them up. The only way forward after that is a fixed-term exclusion, which is no punishment whatever.

Anonymous said...

April Fool? From the BBc News today...

Teachers' rights law takes effect

Teachers will be able to discipline pupils outside of school

New legal powers for teachers and schools in England and Wales to restrain and discipline unruly pupils have come into effect.
The law sets out teachers' right to break up fights and to confiscate items like mobile phones.

The changes are intended to put an end to what teachers' unions call the "You can't tell me what to do" culture.

It is also hoped the legislation will help tackle cyber-bullying via mobiles and the internet.

Restrain and remove

Previously, teachers had been allowed to restrain pupils under common law, with the same authority as parents.

But the new law explicitly states that teachers have the right to physically restrain and remove unruly pupils, and impose detention, including sessions outside school hours and on Saturdays.

Teachers will be able to discipline pupils outside school too - if they see children behaving badly on public transport, for instance.

The new powers are enshrined in the 2006 Education and Inspections Act - much of which comes into force on 1 April.

Ministers believe the common law powers are too vague.

The general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Steve Sinnott, welcomed the changes, but said the government should do more to explain them to schools and to parents.

Meanwhile, ministers are also planning an advertising campaign aimed at tackling bullying via the internet and mobile phones.

Research funded by the government estimates that a quarter of young people have experienced this sort of cyber bullying.


JRD168 said...

lilyofthefield, yes I am serious. We have kids who "don't do detentions" as well. We set up a rota to go and get them from their lessons between members of our department. Works a treat, they begin to realise that they can'e get away with it. I admit though, if you have not got any support for what you are trying to do at home, it makes it very hard. I would hate to give up though!

Anonymous said...

Do teachers want to disciplin pupils outside the school gates? Do we want to feel obliged to walk down the streets at eight in the evening and STILL be responsible for Dwayne's behaviour? Do we want to sit on the beach on sunday afternoon and tell Chantelle to stop binge drinking? Like hell we do.

Anonymous said...

We get the "kidnapping" thing thrown at us - unlawfullly detained or something. It was probably bollocks in the first place but the parents insist they need the do-badder to colect t'littl'un from Primary School/serve in the shop anyway.

To be honest I think they've just given up.

jp57 said...

"Kids are simple creatures, it ain't that difficult to keep them generally in line". Sorry jrd168, I don't know about being a Labour voter, I think you should be in government. This is the kind of comment I would expect a minister to make! Thing is like most other Labour thinking, sounds good but it doesn't work. If kids are being brought up in a complete moral vacuum, as a result of fifty years of liberal policies, it can be very difficult to keep them in line.

Anonymous said...

jp57, most of them aren't even aware that there is a nline. And if they aer, then they think the line was made for them to overstep it.