Keep Your Hands Off Education

I’ve just read an interview of Nigel Fanshawe, an ex-headmaster of a grammar school who is nearly 100 years old. Like me, he came from a background that was very short of money, passed his 11 plus and worked his way through to university and then to teach in a grammar school. He took over an ill-disciplined school ravaged by wartime neglect and transformed it into one of the most successful schools in the country. Would he have been able to do this if he had government poking its nose into everything he did then? Of course not!

Like all heads in those days he took full responsibility for ensuring good discipline with punishment for bad behaviour. It is time that every adult needs to know just how much damage has been made by the government trying to get every child into a comprehensive school. You don’t have to be a genius to recognise that when children of all kinds are taught together, it is every child’s loss. It is nothing to do with money. When I was young everyone who passed the 11 plus from whatever kind of background had a good education and were not allowed to act badly. There were sanctions. No child should be permitted to destroy the sense of peace and order of those who want to learn. I know from personal experience that most children want to leave school at 16 and go out to work to earn money.

Trying to get everyone into a university, as the government wishes, can only result in a drastic lowering of standards, graduates who cannot find jobs and a dearth of good teachers because those who can teach well would not dream of teaching in a comprehensive school.

“Fanshawe regards the education system with a mixture of despair and anger. He believes the lack of good-quality graduates going into teaching is wrecking the system.”

“Governments have, for twenty years, been attacking the teaching profession, with the result that it is no longer attractive” he says. “Teachers do not want to spend their lives fighting 13-year-olds who couldn’t care less about education. It’s not fun to me. None of the brightest graduates want to go into teaching and that means comprehensives can never have the best staff at the top”.

I do strongly wish that the media would drop such words as “the rich and the poor”and “middle classes and working classes.” Society has immeasurably improved in our own country and many others since the end of World-War-2. “Working Class” ought to mean all those people, however much or how little they earn, who have done their best to find work that suits them. People, on the whole speak to each other in a friendly way and it is much more difficult for us to categorize people. Modern technology has, happily, ridden many of us of the exhaustions of the past.

We must all be quicker to complain when we see unnecessary injustices carried out by people who are supposed to serve us, i.e. bureaucrats of all types. Everyone should work harder at accepting responsibility and making good use of our freedom of speech.

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