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Solving the crisis in state education

(270 Posts)
judetheobscure Wed 07-May-03 22:30:37

Thought I'd start a new thread as the state vs private thread is soooo long; and wanted to focus more on possible solutions.

So, fwiw, here are some ideas (aimed at secondary level):

Abolish private schools
Abolish "religious" schools
Abolish grammar schools, foundation schools, CTCs (are they still called this) and any other form of "specialist" school.

Create across-the-board comprehensive system.

Insist on setting. No mixed-ability classes for academic subjects. Allow plenty of opportunity to move "up" and "down" the sets.

Have units within the schools for problem pupils. Remove them from classes as soon as they become disruptive.

Problem pupils who don't improve and who don't have parents that support the school to be sent to boarding schools. (Not necessarily boarding schools for disruptive pupils but normal boarding schools.)

Restrict higher education to top 20%(ish).
Bring back apprenticeships. (Where's a plumber when you need one).
Money saved on universities can go to restoring student grant and better funding for schools.

Train more teachers and train them better. Don't allow teacher training institutions to spend 90% of the course on educational debates and "gender issues" etc. Classroom management and subject specific skills are far more important.

Anything I've missed (tongue-in-cheek)

SamboM Wed 07-May-03 22:32:52

Are you actually EstelletheMorris?

miggy Wed 07-May-03 22:40:14

Good plan batgirl
plus dress/behaviour/discipline codes
plus means tested fees, not much, say max £500 per term at 50k income- ringfenced for schools but all schools, otherwise in wealthy areas schools would get more money.

northernlass1 Wed 07-May-03 22:41:34

scrap sats1 now...

judetheobscure Wed 07-May-03 22:44:21

EstelletheMorris Dancer maybe?

Fees - on top of the income tax? Not totally against the idea - means those without children can stop harping on about subsidising us.

robinw Wed 07-May-03 23:28:09

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robinw Wed 07-May-03 23:29:18

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miggy Wed 07-May-03 23:42:32

oh no- I love the summer holidays. Really- not being sarcastic either!

Tortington Thu 08-May-03 00:06:44

i think summer hols are the solution and i know blairy fairy was going on about summer schools once over - for failing students but dont know what constituts a failing student and where these damn summer schools are!

summer schools for sure may be more fun activities than usual, but reading and maths lessons.

in fact no school hols except maybe 1 week xmas ( or other important cultural event)

eeryschool should have before and after schooling like extra reading or maths,

they should give them breakfast ( i know a school who does breakfast)

they should feed them evening meal and tuck them in bed!

am joking with last two BTW!

judetheobscure Thu 08-May-03 00:08:25

oh yes robinw - don't get me started on PE in schools.
I agree with you about starting the behavioural bit earlier - just a lot of my thoughts were addressing the issue of comprehensive schools.

Re teacher training - when I did mine (late 1980s) I recall one two-hour seminar devoted to classroom management (and that wasn't part of the course but was put in by our particular tutor because she thought we should have some preparation). I recall every week a one-hour lecture followed by a two-hour seminar on equal opportunities - first week was sex discrimination, then race, then disability, then sexual orientation etc. Then lots of stuff on "theories of education". There was just so much theory (90%) and so little practical help. Would have been better with 90% practical helpful classroom related stuff.

Don't necessarily agree with abolishing whole-class teaching - if your classes are ability grouped it works very well.

Liked your starting school at 6 but nursery from 3.

Abolish SATS1 - yes. Computer stuff - hmmm - not to keen on this I'm afraid.

Two-tier salary structure I don't agree with either - and I was one of the ones who spent every lunch time and after school running clubs (as music teacher). But I had less marking to do. I think it's swings and roundabouts.
I think there should be a graded pay scale according to the school you work in - bad school with lots of problem pupils, high percentage on free school meals gets higher paid teachers.

judetheobscure Thu 08-May-03 00:10:47

Like summer schools etc., but if the children are ability grouped it shouldn't be so much of an issue?

Tortington Thu 08-May-03 00:24:05

tut! shame

JJ Thu 08-May-03 00:25:38

Custardo, know you were joking, but....

Our school put on a tour of the labs one day with some food afterwards. It was a basic display: crisps, the requisite veggies, some hot dogs, y'know stuff like that. I remember the hot dogs.

There was one little girl (maybe 7-9?) who carefully took her plate, put it on her napkin, wrapped it up and put it in her bag. I'm not sure what I said to her (something like, "is it ok? would you like something else?" ) She said, "I'm saving it for tonight so I have something to eat for dinner." I told her that eating something here and taking something home was ok. She hadn't had lunch. After talking to a friend of mine who is a teacher at the school, it turns out that hunger is a huge problem at the schools in the area. It's hard to focus when hungry and a lot of kids have a problem because of this.

Sorry Custardo, hunger organizations have my full support, as do breakfast and dinner programs. Sorry to break the string of a lighthearted thread. I'm sure you're talking about posh schools who don't have a problem with this sort of thing. Theoretically.

Tortington Thu 08-May-03 00:31:17

no JJ - quite right, in fact the school i was refering too, is in a desperatley poor area in the north of england- its ethos is that if a child has a breakfast it helps with their attention. am not sure how the funding worked for this, am sure teachers and supervisory staff in this situation feel obliged to volunteer their time, have no idea how the food is paid for or if it is subsidised.

hunger is a problem, probably not in the school my children go to - but how do i know? and i told the teacher that some people may feel obliged to pay - howver their children may not get an evening meal. she looked at me funny! but its true

ScummyMummy Thu 08-May-03 00:39:18

Recruit teachers who tend to quite like children and respect parents. So many I meet secretly or not so secretly hate the majority of the little blighters and their parents- it makes school life very unpleasant for some families. I suppose most of us shudder at the very thought of teaching so schools are forced into employing some child haters to make up the numbers?

suedonim Thu 08-May-03 03:01:38

Bring schools and their surrounding communities into a much closer relationship. Communities should have a pride in their schools and work together for the good of everyone. (Not sure how to do this, btw, but there must be a way!)

PS Leave the summer holidays alone - I love them.

robinw Thu 08-May-03 07:08:05

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hmb Thu 08-May-03 07:15:39

Put the money into the system early on.

Set classes with absolute freedom to move between them, so you could be in the top set for one, and the bottom for another subject.

Limit class numbers to between 15-20.

Behavioural unit on site for any troublemakers.

First rate, specialist school for children with severe learning difficulties. Far too many chidren are having their education ruinied as the are in mainstream schools that they cannot cope with, and the staff lack the training and time to deal with their needs.

End the notion that everything has to be 'fun', in least in the secondary school. Not all of like is fun, and the little darlings may as well learn that before they leave school.

Children who do not want to go to school (and often have no intention of working) at the age of 14, should be allowed to leave school to go to a state approved and funded apprentiship, with day realeace to cover literacy and numeracy lessons. This should be backed up by *real* life long provision of learning for all. So that they can then opt back into education when they see the need for it.

And please stop the level of inclusion that means that children who cannot read and write in english spend time learning second languages. Why do this? So that they can feel second rate in 2 languages instead of one? Issues like this should be sorted out by intensive one on one teaching of the child out of the class, before they are re-integrated when they can cope in class. I have had to try to teach GCSE science to children with reading ages of 6. It does *nothing* for them except make them feel a failure, and I am not surprised that they often become disruptive. Inclusion at this sort of level is a cost saving excercise dressed up as equal ops.

ks Thu 08-May-03 07:38:22

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WideWebWitch Thu 08-May-03 08:37:06

Pay teachers properly and give them the professional respect they deserve

Agree sudonim, better links between schools and communities

Abolish private schools

Give schools more money

Bring back higher ed grants for all

Agree robinw about governors, not more than 5 years (seems to be a career chair at our school) and more parents on board, plus meetings with parents to be at set times (I don't know who most of ours are)

Give teachers support when faced with disruptive pupils but also give the family/parents support if they need it (or refer to somewhere who can)

Scrap SATs and league tables. Parents will then have to stop believing them and head teachers will be less statistics obsessed

Start school later at 6 or 7 yo, NOT 4. They're not ready!

Develop the whole child rather than just teach them to pass exams: recognise that life skills are as important

That's it for the moment I think.

Oakmaiden Thu 08-May-03 09:56:56

Yup - we need much smaller classes - and preferably smaller schools, where everybody knows one another and it can be a community (has anyone heard of human-scale education? I don't know how to do links, but there is a site here ). No testing for primary age children (with smaller classes a teacher would be far more able to know a child's strengths and waeaknesses without testing anyway). No National Curriculum either - it stifles the truely creative teachers, and doesn't really benefit anyone. Have guidelines, sure, but don't force all teachers to be the same.

And pay teachers a LOT more - make it a career that is one of the most important in the economy - make teachers fight for positions that command respect - that way we will get the best people teaching our children, not just the ones who are in it cos they can't think what else to do, and know they will always be able to find a job. (I know not all teachers teach for this reason - but I suspect the poorest ones do)

hmb Thu 08-May-03 10:15:33

Oh, and something to build a real bond between home and school, so that everyone works for the best interests of the child. So no dictatorial schools, but at the same time no parents who undermine the school by automatically supporting children who are rude, violent and disruptive. The 'support' they give the children often takes the form of coming into the school and being rude, violent and dissruptive to the staff. Real, meaningful home/school contracts are needed.

tigermoth Thu 08-May-03 11:05:37

More pay and respect for teachers, definitely.

No more than 15 primary aged children per teacher.

Smaller schools

Investment in better school buildings - some state schools I have visited are so look so in need of repair.

Breakfast clubs to ensure all children have food before school and help make life easier for working parents.

School busses (like the USA system) for primary school children to reduce the conjestion and hassle of the school run.

LOts of extra currricular activities. Not necessarily run by teachers. Professional sports coaches, actors and musicians etc in schools

If one school does not offer the extra curricular activity your child wants, you should be able to enrol them in the activity at another school. My son loves cricket and is good at it. His old school has a thriving team but his new school does not, so he misses out.

Recognise that each school has an individual character so don't attempt to strictly standardise education through endelss testing. Review SATS and the national curriculum. Perhaps not ban these entirely but relax the rules.

Make it easy for parents to transfer their child from one state school to another, if they feel their child would be happier elsewhere.

tigermoth Thu 08-May-03 11:17:15

one more,

Don't ban private schools for the time being but gradually phase them out by making private education an increasingly expensive option. Parents who choose this option pay an extra contribution on top of taxes towards state education. The cost of the contribution rises each year. This works alongside increasing investment and improvement in state education.

The aim being that within 10 years the quality of state education will be so good that it becomes first choice for nearly all parents. Those who really want to pay for their child's private education should be allowed to do so, but this route is taken by only a tiny minority of parents.

JJ Thu 08-May-03 12:58:58

Offer the community ways in which to help and inform them of what the school is doing and what needs doing.

Accept any and all volunteer help on the basis that even if someone is offering something not needed, spending time at the school and with the kids will possibly suck them in and help out with what's needed next time. (Nothing worse than offering something to somebody and getting turned down!)

Tigermoth, I like your idea. Maybe make the private schools pay the fee which would be based on the average enrollment over the past year. (It might be easier to administer and less prone to abuse -- people enrolling their kids in state school then pulling them out after not paying the tax).

Make parents get off mumsnet and get the toddler ready to go pick up elder son at school so teachers can do what they need to do after school.

Custardo, sorry again. Just assume that I am always confused. (It's a safe assumption, trust me. )

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