www.mainstream.org.uk
Education

BACK TO TEACHING NOT FILLING FORMS IN

...and end the league 'tables'

The rot set in more than twenty years ago. When Blair formed New Labour's administration in 1997, their top priority was going to be "Education, Education, Education". ( Labour's actual priority over their 13 years was "Legislation, Legislation, Legislation"). Educational standards declined and this continued with the Coalition and the Tories.  The profession of teaching - older, wiser, trained-up and qualified adults, passing on their knowledge to children - has taken second place to form-filling, box-checking, politically-correct 'training' . The most mental example of this, now primary schools and nurseries have to maintain written records when one of their pupils, shouting in the playground, calls another one names: this is now 'hate crime', this child (who may be only four - when most of the world's children aren't even in school) - is put in a database of 'possible future terrorists / abusers / criminals.'

The government points to "More Teachers" - but many  of the extra teachers  are  un-trained teaching "Assistants". They force schools to compete in  "Performance League Tables"  like the X-Factor.  This rubbishes some schools as "worst performers" - when their real problem is that they're in a poor catchment area. This league-table mentality makes schools  concentrate on  "easy" subjects, where they can get more GCSE and A level passes (like replacing French and German, by  easier-to-learn Spanish).  
   Worst of all, the extra burden for teachers of more and more, form-filling;  everything to be ticked in "check-boxes". There are even extremists in the education field who hold the belief that education is a two-way process, with teachers also learning from the schoolchildren. They want the children to be able to 'rate' their teachers, instead of the other way round. You coundn't make it up.

MAINSTREAM would end all the league tables and check boxes and get back to real teaching.


HEADTEACHERS IN CHARGE 

By law teachers are in 'loco parentis' - they take the place of the parents, while in charge of their pupils. We wouldn't let local polticians and councils, tell parents how to run their home life, what clothes to dress their children in, how to deal with their children's behaviour. So why do we allow this to happen with schools? For 40 years politicians have eroded the headteacher's role, allowing local council busybodies to constantly interfere in the way he/she runs the school. They make rulings on the school dress-code, school uniform, which have NOTHING TO DO with the law; but are the business of the school  alone. They force schools to TAKE BACK the tiny minority of badly-behaved and disruptive children, who ruin the education of the vast majority of normal children, by disrupting  classes and intimidating - even attacking - teachers. In some areas such as Liverpool, the council has outlawed checking spelling, or using red pens to correct homework (as this supposedly hurts  children's self-esteem!). 

     Mainstream would put control of ALL  school policy, back where it belongs: with the headteacher.  Teachers would be expected to look for regular parent opinions and  wishes, in regards to their children's education, at parent-teacher meetings. Schools themselves, via the headteacher would decide all matters of dress-code, pupils' exclusions, any punishments or sanctions - everything in the day-to-day running of the school. If parents (or the children) don't agree with it - they would have to move schools.


INFORM PARENTS ON SCHOOL  MEDICATION


    We parents regularly have to sign forms for our children's school; authorising them to go on school trips and any emergency medical treatment that might be necessary. This school, quite rightly, informs the parents about any inspections or treatments done in the school. As parents, we've got the right to know these things. Quite rightly, schools tell us if they administer fisrt-aid or give Calpol, to one of our chidren.  We get notified of any injections and innoculations. But in the area of reproductive health, especially for girls, some schools give medication to the pupils and keep this hidden from the parents. We are talking about procedures a lot more serious than taking a paracetamol.

If anything goes wrong - if there are side-effects - these will continue when the child comes back home after school. How can parents fulfill our responsibility to look after our children, if there are gaps in their medical history, which we don't know about?   Mainstream would EMPOWER parents with the knowledge about all medical treatment that their children are receiving at school - or have received during the past five years; telling schools who administer any medication or medical treatment to pupils, to bring not only the family doctor, but the parents into the loop as well. 


MAKE OUR CHILDREN THE BEST AT EURO-LANGUAGES

Now we're the worst - make us the best

Now our people are the WORST linguists in Europe. Wherever we go in Europe, we're embarrassed by so many of the locals speaking good English, while so few of us can speak their languages. That means urgently raising the profile of language classes in schools.

The past ten years - since the Tory / LibDem coalition invented league tables for schools - have been a disaster for language teaching, Because Spanish is  much easier to learn than French or German, schools have switched away from these other languages into Spanish alone - so they can get more passes and climb up the league tables.  MAINSTREAM would abolish these league tables and make schools concentrate on , not just Spanish, but German, French, Italian and Polish as the most significant languages of 21st century Europe. It should be normal in secondary schools to study at at least one of either German or French . And preferably a second Euro-language.


SORT THE METRIC MESS

  "Metrication" in this country is a shambles. We use "imperial" units, for distances, weights and measures. Our new baby's weight is in pounds; motorway signs in miles; the speed-limits and car speedometers, in miles-an-hour. For our heights we use feet and inches. The weather forecast on telly has three inches of rain, or snow two feet deep - whatever. These imperial units are part of everyday life and are going to be around for a long time.

    But many children leave school, having never been taught these measurements. They only learnt "Metric" (metres, litres, kilos etc.). How are they supposed to live in the real world, without being taught properly? We need to know BOTH metric and imperial - that's what they should teach in school. Obviously metric is more important, most of the world uses it, and all science and technology.

    Go to a D-I-Y store, and you find that the timber is sold in foot-lengths, but metric cross-section. When petrol goes up, they always announce the price "per Gallon"; but prices on the pumps are only in Pence per Litre. Over time, some of the 'imperial' versions will disappear. One important measurement will ALWAYS stay imperial and that's Civil Aviation aircraft altitudes. Here and all over the world, aircraft heights are always in FEET. So 35,000 feet might be the height of a fllight to Turkey.

    We must accept that for the present we need to understand BOTH sets of measurements and be able to convert one to the other. Our children should be taught BOTH metric and Imperial, not in all uses but definitely for units of length, weight, and area. We need to teach BOTH. DEAL WITH IT.


ENDING THE 'SCHOOL RUN'

Outside primary schools at 9 am and 3 pm, there's always loads of cars clogging up the street, a danger to children, a nuisance to residents and of course a disaster for the environment. There's no justification for parents driving their children to primary school, as in urban areas these are always in walking distance. (Obviously in rural areas this does not apply). Councils try to stop the 'school run' by no-parking zones outside schools, in many cases enforced by a warden, but people just park further away or ignore the restrictions.

There's an easy way to stop the school run, that's when primary schools allocate their places when children start school. Now this is done just on catchment areas - you have to live within a certain distance from the school. Why not enforce a 'walk to school' clause?. Schools would give first preference to children whose parents agree in writing, that their child or children will be WALKED to school every day, and not driven.


CIVICS CLASSES TO TEACH CHILDREN THE LAW

  If any of us breaks the law,  it's never a defence to say that we didn't know what we did was illegal. Ignorance of the Law is never an excuse. Unfortunately, an increasing number of children don't actually KNOW what's legal and what's not legal. Traditionally this was not taught in school but was passed on by parents / older siblings. Now since a lot of parents don't do this, it's safer to have it taught in school . MAINSTREAM wants Civics classes in schools (if they don't already have them) , to teach about the laws which affect children most, and to teach that as children grow up, they have not only HUMAN RIGHTS, but also HUMAN RESPONSIBILTIES to their fellow-citizens.


BOOKS KEPT IN SCHOOL NOT AT HOME

Our children's school like many others forces the pupils to store most of the school books at home; then carry in each day, all the books they need for that day's lessons. This is because they can't store books in the desks any more - as used to be the case . Ours regularly came home lugging a huge weight of books every day - this makes the school journey tiring, makes it hard to run for the bus, breaks the straps on school bags and has been known to cause back problems. All secondary schoolchildren should be based in one classroom with lockable desks, where they can store the books for current classes. Then they only need to take home, the subset of books needed for their homework. It makes sense - it's not rocket science.


ENGLISH TEACHING BY NATIVE SPEAKERS

The teaching of English in schools - the English language, grammar and so on - needs to be restricted to teachers with English as their mother tongue. For all other subjects, this is not so important - as long as the teacher is an expert in their subject; and also speaks good enough English to be able to communicate the information.


TAMPONS FOR THE BOYS?

The Scottish devolved government on 24 August announced a policy of free sanitary products to all their students and pupils. Not - as you might imagine - just the female students. That wouldn't be politically correct - having a service only for one sex and not for the other.

Or is there another reason - they're trying to be inclusive, going for diversity - and are catering for the needs of the transgenders" ?

Yes these 'Trans' people (while technically males) are living as females - but maybe someone should explain to the Scottish Government a biological fact they obviously haven't realised: The take-up for sanitary products among the so-called "transbender community" is likely to be extremely low.