David James

What is school’s role in society?

The more we argue that schools are pivotal to improving society and mopping up social problems, the more politicians will expect them to do more, writes David James, who calls for a reality check

How important is school?

How important is school? That sounds like a very easy question to answer. If, like me, you’re a teacher, you might be inclined to say that our work is fundamental to shaping individual identity and that by believing this, we add greater meaning to what we do. Surely, no work can be more valuable.

That belief seems validated by everyday experience because, so often, we witness turning points in children’s lives that are life-affirming and, we believe, transformative. As the old advertising slogan goes, teachers make a difference.

To believe the opposite – that school is of marginal ...

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