I'll swear it would work

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
As the reports of pupils being allowed to swear in school have generated a lot of excitement - and a little schadenfreude - let me relate the end of the saga to those who do not read beyond the Scottish pages in The TES Scotland.

The Northamptonshire school that attempted to pilot a scheme to allow a set amount of swearing by a group of exceptionally difficult teenage pupils, as a way first of showing them how often they swore and then of moderating their behaviour, has had to drop the scheme.

The reason, according to the headteacher, was gross press misrepresentation accompanied by a storm of protest from those who took the headlines at face value and did not bother to find out the facts. This outcome sets a sad precedent for anyone who proposes an innovative and enterprising solution to a difficult but controversial problem.

As for the Scottish Parent Teacher Council's support of the scheme, well we too have suffered gross press misrepresentation and severe criticism from those who claim to defend the nation's morals but in fact don't bother to establish the facts.

Sadly, the school was probably unaware of our support and certainly not helped by it. However, I do not apologise for daring to stick our heads above the parapet. Others, in the past, have had cause to be grateful for our willingness to take an unpopular stand on an issue when we believed it to be right.

It is our duty, as a national body, not only to reflect and report on the majority view but occasionally to stand against it and provide leadership.

It is a truth that, even in democracies, the majority is not always right.

Judith Gillespie

Development Manager

Scottish Parent Teacher Council

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