Quick-fix policy, slow decline

6th October 1995 at 01:00
Sir Christopher Ball asks "How are we to help and reach the children of inadequate parents?" (TES, September 15). His solution that compulsory attendance at school should be extended to cover three to four-year-olds is an example of the craving of those in influential positions to find a "quick fix" or a policy with an easily discernible effect.

Real learning is a highly complex and interdependent process which relies on the relationship of parent, teacher and child. Children do not learn because the law says they must. In 15 years of teaching at both primary and secondary level I have never met a child who did not want to learn - although many did not want to learn the way the Government wanted them to. "Do children have rights?" Sir Christopher asks, incredibly. Yes they have a right to be genuinely listened to and respected as individuals and their representatives should be heavily involved and consulted over any arrangements made by government on their behalf.

Standards cannot be improved by lurching from one externally-imposed quick fix to another. Sir Christopher's "inadequate parents" of today were the bright, needy children of yesterday that education policy failed to reach.

SIMON BURTON

Alberts Cottage

Upwaltham, Petworth, West Sussex

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