Miss Brodie Is at Risk Daily ... Standards Are Falling. Blair's Education Policy Is an Insult to the Nation's Intelligence

By Irvine, Jack | The Mirror (London, England), May 21, 1998 | Go to article overview

Miss Brodie Is at Risk Daily ... Standards Are Falling. Blair's Education Policy Is an Insult to the Nation's Intelligence


Irvine, Jack, The Mirror (London, England)


THE husband of a Scottish secondary teacher felt compelled to write to me after my recent condemnation of Scots Secretary Donald Dewar, who had talked in terms of "going to war" on teachers.

This man's moving letter spoke of his wife coming home from school emotionally drained by her ill-disciplined pupils, then sitting for hours marking homework. Her own family were being ignored because of the strains of this all too demanding vocation.

"Your article was spot on," says this Scottish Mirror reader who chooses to remain anonymous. "Not only are my wife and colleagues snowed under by work, but now we have to listen to Mr Dewar attacking us.

"Where is it all going to end?"

That I can answer. It is not going to end. The madness continues. Firstly let us look at the dumplings who set Higher exams and decide on pass marks.

Students sitting some Higher exams have passed with just over 30 per cent. Indeed in 1991, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (aka dumplings) was forced to reduce the Higher in Home Economics pass mark to well below 40 per cent because the results were so poor.

Despite this pathetic 40 per cent threshold, less than one in five of the little dears passed.

Now some of you might be tempted to leap in here and say, wait a minute, this is all the fault of the teachers. It isn't. It is the fault of successive Governments who have played politics with education and allowed anarchy to run riot in the classroom.

The teachers suffered and, inevitably, so did the kids.

However, no Government likes to be seen as failing in education - so they fiddle the results.

I challenge Education Minister Brian Wilson to deny that kids getting Highers now would have had no chance of gaining a similar grade 10 years ago.

Nowhere is this anarchy more apparent than in the increase in teachers attacked by parents.

Last week the National Union of Schoolmasters and Union of Women teachers (NASUWT) heard at their annual conference in West Kilbride that since the parents' charter, there has been a steady stream of people coming into schools and verbally abusing or intimidating teachers. The conference even heard about a teacher who was beaten up by the uncle of a child he had reprimanded.

Now please remember that since the Dunblane tragedy, schools are supposed to be secure areas for our children. Presumably if a psycho parent can burst in and duff up Miss Brodie, then a psycho with an AK47 won't have any trouble.

The teachers would like the right to exclude disruptive pupils. That seems eminently sensible.

But the Government would like to keep the little darlings within the education system. Strategies considered include, "giving problem teenagers lessons in citizenship and personal and social development."

This will not work. These kids, and more importantly, their parents, are anti-social, moronic, sewer rats. The only qualifications they are likely to gain are in drug dealing, nicking car radios and getting pregnant at 14.

Nothing that has been tried before has worked, so let's do it my way - to quote the recently departed Francis Albert Sinatra.

The first time little Wayne or Waynetta steps out of line, mummy and daddy will be told they had better mend their ways.

The second time the little dears go doolally, mum and dad will be up before the beak.

The third time will be the last. Jail for dad, benefit cuts for mum and borstal for the weans.

Well, nobody ever accused me of being a liberal!

I say once again to Messrs Dewar and Wilson, your leader's words ring hollow.

Tony Blair said Labour was all about "education, education, education. …

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