We can’t ignore crisis in our school system
The letter by Katherine Atha and Susan Frain (Your Say, November 18) makes some good points but omits many that account for the poor standards of education in Blackpool and in many other parts of the country.
Briefly, these include:
a) the lack of discipline in the classroom. There can be no true learning in an undisciplined class room. Teachers are afraid to use their authority for fear of the consequences. Three weeks ago a senior teacher down south was suspended for simply placing a hand on the shoulder of a 15-year-old who had been swearing during a lesson. He is accused of assault. Last year a deputy headteacher was suspended for 14 months before being cleared of assault.
b) permitting mobile phones in class. These are switched on and used while the teacher is trying to teach. They should be banned. In many Finnish schools and several US states they are.
c) Poor teaching. Maths, for example, is taught in over 59 per cent of our schools by teachers who have no qualification in the subject beyond GCSE. This has nothing to do with academies.
d) pupils arriving at school half asleep because they have spent hours on their mobile phones long after midnight instead of sleeping. In many cases parents are aware of this but choose to pretend otherwise.
e) lack of parental support. This is vital if their offspring are to succeed.
f) a lack of reading. The addiction to facebook and twitter has led to a refusal to read. History, for example, is copied from the internet despite much of it being inaccurate. Books are regarded as something to avoid at all costs. This is now widespread in our weaker universities.
g) poor leadership. Each of the above plus many more is based on: numerous inspection reports, teacher interviews off the record, many, many reports by pupils in secondary schools, and brave ex-teachers who have exposed in writing what is taking place in our schools every day.
Is there any wonder we are sliding further down the international table yearly in English and maths?
There is a real crisis in our educational system. It will not be resolved by pretending it is all about money or it doesn’t exist.
Dr Barry Clayton
Inequalities led to Leave success
I believe the real reason for the success of the Leave campaign was not fear of immigration, loss of sovereignty, or the promise of vast sums for the NHS but an over-riding and deep-rooted dissatisfaction with the inequalities dividing this country.
In general, it is said, we, the older voters, the “nos” with homes and pensions and savings, opted to leave, and we have been demonised as selfish and uncaring about the future of the young. This is nonsense. We are the parents and grandparents of these same young.
In the 1970s, we voted to remain in the Common Market, because we were told, and believed, that trade would bring wealth, which would “trickle down”. It has not “trickled down”, nor, as things stand, is it going to. Big business, the wealthy and financial institutions constantly warn us of the dangers of Brexit. They prefer the status quo, which has served them well.
Were we to have a second referendum, and voted to “remain”, how do Remainers think Europe would treat us, were we now to vote to stay with them? They would regard us as ditherers, and rightly so. Any influence we ever had on their decisions would disappear.
We older voters recall a time when the NHS was created in a time of austerity, a time when the young could buy a home, when there were decent jobs, and zero-hour contracts were unknown, when the utilities and rail were owned by us, when young people could study at university without incurring huge debts and a time without food banks.
We leavers don’t know what a future outside the EU holds for us. We do know that the present system has failed.
A stocking filler for motorists
A good Christmas present would be a copy of the latest Highway Code, especially if never purchased or reviewed within the last three years.
Just reading through the Highway Code would refresh driving standards and be good for young family members, especially cyclists. The code warns of potential dangers, as well as highlighting laws and rules.
However, there are far too many drivers and riders who may never conform, however strong a lecture, and I have to accept that the very small cost of purchasing this potentially life-saving booklet would, for them, be a complete waste of money.
In my opinion, books on courtesy and road accidents could be better for such individuals. If nothing else, take back control by fitting winter tyres.
Nail in the coffin of our post offices
Who on earth, at Post Office Limited HQ, took the decision to withdraw the sale of TV licences at local branches?
This, together with payment of pensions and allowances directly into personal bank accounts, has resulted in the closure of hundreds of smaller post offices.
In many places, such as rural areas, branches provided an essential service, and these actions can be likened to starving a faithful old workhorse to death.