Keep them happy

Hurray! Estelle Morris has a nice crow-bar in her toolbox to lever away the pretensions of the academic model that inhibits our education system.

In the past 12 months as a freelance trainer, I have met close to 1,000 teachers. All came to courses on how to cope with disaffected youth.

A cause of poor motivation for vast numbers of children at key stage 4 has been a compulsory curriculum that has not offered them sufficient relevance or success. Class, culture, gender, locality, local economics, as well as personal interests and ability all contribute to pupil aspirations. Schools most successful in surmounting behaviour and attendance difficulties have been those who have made GCSE alternatives accessible, including vocational training.

The best learning takes place when students are happy. We have also ignored the range of forms which intelligence and ability can take. And if learning for life is to be a reality, it is essential that many fewer young people leave school feeling they have had enough of learning.

As for consultation, I, and others could have pointed the way years ago, and so many school-leavers would have benefited.

Owen Booker Educational consultant trainer The Chapel House Newton on the Hill Harmer Hill Shrewsbury, Shropshire

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