Springtime and the educational sap rises

11th March 2005 at 00:00
If there's a god up there, he has his scriptwriters on overtime. Teachers, with their front row view of the ever-shifting world, can vouch for that.

Has society ever changed so fast before? There's the melting pot of faiths, customs and skin colours; there's the disappearance of many commonly accepted values and attitudes; and there's the persistent gap between those for whom education works well and the rest. There's the information pile we all add to and feed on daily - a bewildering and sometimes impenetrable ants' nest. And there's the pressure to buy or be no one.

We expect the children to cope. We expect them to come to school every day instead of being umbilically linked to the iPod and the kebab house. We expect them to knuckle down to learn in a world where celebrity is the only success that counts. We expect them to be nice to each other when so many of their parents were proud to be the Me generation.

But if it's hard for them to cope, sometimes it's a lot harder for the system that has to contain them, nurture them and encourage their growth.

Schools are not unlike plant pots: to get glorious flowers coming out at the top, you have to take care of the root system at the bottom. Policies on behaviour, on inclusion, and on attendance are the necessary muck in the pot.

So this supplement is about the problems we have and about the solutions that are being tried: some brewed and mixed in schools, some available pre-packaged from the DfES garden centre. Spring is coming, so if your classroom seems full of dead wood now, have a read of this and then see if you can't spot all those green shoots poking through.

Happy gardening.

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