It's May and I feel like dancing

13th May 2005 at 01:00
y milk of human kindness has run dry. I look at some kids and have no sympathy.

I'm not going to name names, nor am I going to describe them (what, and be sued?), nor am I even going to count them up (because that might be depressing). I'm not going to describe the hellish background of one, nor the dubious upbringing of another. I'm not going to blame poverty, or wealth - because both have caused their problems.

But I am going to have to try hard not to dance on the table tops come May 31 - only because it would make me look silly when some of the aforementioned kids come back in August with a timetable full of Intermediate 2s, and an earnest expression of saintly virtue. That lasts minutes until reality strikes and they remember they don't like working - it interrupts their social life too much.

And there is always the little bully boy coming up into S2, and the sweetie pie coming into S3 and the wee darlings about to hit fourth year. Not many, but enough.

I know rationally that if these kids were spirited to some off-site provision, which is what they need, no doubt others would step into the empty spaces. But I'm looking at the vast number of decent kids who have had their education blighted by the few.

I'm looking at the kids with literacy problems, who find learning hard.

When they turn to support staff for help, they find them busy with the bad boys and girls. I'm looking at the kids who need just a wee hand to keep up with the rest, but who have no chance, because too much teacher time is spent disciplining (or not, as is often the case) the baddies. And I'm looking at the other kids who are just too ready to jump on the bandwagon and cause their own mayhem.

I'm too ashamed to look at the nice kids, who read on ahead, who finish every piece of work to the best of their ability, who sit looking embarrassed as staff tussle with the delinquents. In every school, the majority lose out to a very small minority.

On good days, I can be thankful that I have my safe existence, and feel absolute pity for the child who doesn't. But on bad days I watch certain individuals rule the school, and feel an anger simmer so deep down that, really, early retirement seems the only option.

No - there is another option.

Let's accept that for some kids a mainstream school is not the right place - for whatever reason. Let's provide off-site provision - with the right level of work and without the stress they undoubtedly feel in school. Let's staff such places with social workers, psychologists and specially trained teachers.

And then let's get on and do our job - let pupils learn, exams get passed and life continue as it should.

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