One subject that seems to have slipped off the radar in the election run-up is education.
A huge amount of sound bite time is being dedicated to health, money, and immigration but the fate of our education system has taken a back seat and I guess that’s because the little darlings aren’t voters.
Voters or not, their fate, at the hands of whichever party makes it into Downing Street, will affect the nation’s future prosperity and unless somebody soon faces the reality of the dire state of our schooling arrangements we are facing Educashunal Armmagedon (for those who can spell it).
Newly-qualified teachers are abandoning their chosen profession at an unprecedented rate according to statistics from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers who met in Liverpool last week.
Their numbers reveal the shocking fact that only six in every 10 newly-qualified teachers are still working in classrooms a year after qualifying and the reasons why these young entrants to the world of education give up so readily is due to disillusioned work colleagues and the stresses of dealing with a bureaucratic system that struggles to provide adequate support.
My apologies for the mixed metaphors but these people are falling at the first fence because they are being thrown into the deep end before they are able to cope with 21st century youth. No longer can they expect their class to stand to attention when they walk into the classroom and it is equally unlikely that the massive noise level from the students will measurably diminish as the teacher appears before them.
There is no point in harking back to the halcyon days when pupils came to attention and waited to be told to sit down, and maybe that level of control and domination had a detrimental effect upon some children, but the vast majority of teachers I know would give their eye teeth to be part of that world again.
The newly-qualified teachers of today are likely to have come from an unruly school environment of mobile internet access, texting, sexting and anti-social media and have no real idea what it might be like to work with children who do not answer back, who can sit and work and obey simple instructions.
So, the problem needs solving and I don’t believe that, whichever party picks up the baton in May, the problem will be resolved with more money (fat chance), resources or new rules.
The fundamental issue surrounds the total lack of respect for teachers from too many children and in many cases their horrible unsupportive parents.
I use the word respect but what I’m really talking about is fear ... If more children feared what might happen if they misbehave they would undoubtedly act accordingly and until the balance of power swings in favour of Mr Chips, our schools will continue to churn out young adults who can survive three years at teacher training college but can’t make it through the first year on the job.
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