Class­room cri­sis can­not carry on

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Paul Stainton -

Peter­bor­ough has a prob­lem and it’s strug­gling to add up. In fact, if the lat­est Sat test fig­ures are to be be­lieved, sub­tract­ing, read­ing and writ­ing are a bit of a con­cern too.

Em­bar­rass­ingly, the city fin­ished rock bot­tom of the na­tional pri­mary school, league ta­bles, with sixty per cent of pupils in the city ap­par­ently un­able to read their own graf­fiti, write more than LOL on their smart­phone, or work out that two beans plus two beans, does not equal “some beans.”

Par­ents have a right to know what is go­ing on in our schools, who is to blame for this men­tal morass and just what is be­ing done to ad­dress it.

The city MP, Ste­wart Jack­son, has called the re­sults “ap­palling & un­ac­cept­able & un­sus­tain­able,” not great gram­mar, but you get his point. He claims that we need new think­ing and a fresh ap­proach but that is a bit rich com­ing from a man whose govern­ment claimed that academies were the panacea to all our learn­ing woes – It’s claimed that five out of the seven worst per­form­ing Peter­bor­ough schools are academies.

The govern­ment has also spec­tac­u­larly failed to live up to its prom­ises on im­mi­gra­tion, adding yet more stress to our al­ready creak­ing class­rooms.

Coun­cil leader, John Holdich, of­ten cites the tran­sient na­ture of our pop­u­la­tion and the sheer vol­ume of those that don’t have English as a first lan­guage, as added pres­sures, but we have known all that for a long time. What are we do­ing about it?

The coun­cil may have lit­tle con­trol over academies, but was cut­ting a ded­i­cated coun­cil of­fi­cer post for ed­u­ca­tion, the right thing to do at this time?

Can the coun­cil leader also be cabi­net mem­ber for Ed­u­ca­tion, Skills, Univer­sity and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, or should he take lessons in del­e­ga­tion?

Teach­ers blame the bad re­sults on changes to the tests, but they were the same for ev­ery­one, so why did we fare so badly?

It may have some­thing to do with our fail­ure to at­tract teach­ers to the city, or the fact that their class­rooms are full to burst­ing and their in-trays are clogged up with mark­ing and end­less streams of red tape.

Hon­estly, who would want to be a teacher th­ese days?

When I was grow­ing up and you mis­be­haved in class (and trust me, I did fre­quently) you got a clip round the ear from “Sir” and the belt from your dad when you got home.

Th­ese days the teacher only has to raise his voice to a child and you run the risk of be­ing sued, or re­ceiv­ing a punch in the face from an irate par­ent, who thinks it’s your job to bring up their child.

The same sort of par­ents who are far too busy on Face­book to no­tice that lit­tle Jimmy can’t spell “Fink” or that he didn’t get break­fast that morn­ing.

This cri­sis in our pri­mary school class­rooms can­not be al­lowed to con­tinue and it is the duty of ev­ery­one con­cerned – Govern­ment, teach­ers, schools, par­ents and the coun­cil – To fix, what be­tween them, they have bro­ken.

Our chil­dren are be­ing failed and you lot re­ally must try harder.

BBC Ra­dio Cam­bridgeshire’s Paul Stain­ton writes for the Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph

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