What the teachers say;Opinion

15th May 1998 at 01:00
Sandra Fisher, teacher at Wilford Meadows school, Nottingham: "Where are the extra resources and manpower to make this (the social exclusion report) work?

You need more one-to-one attention and smaller class sizes to deal with these kinds of problems. At the moment there's so much paper-work and so many different jobs to do that we don't have time to sort problems out before they explode. At lunch-time I used to be able to sit with the the kids, get to know them, talk about all their problems. But now you're constantly pestered. 'Have you filled in this form? So and so wants you to sign this.' And you're having to take over more jobs that are being spread out over fewer staff."

Louise Miller, teacher at The Compton School, north London: "Getting kids picked up and dragged back to school by the police is not the answer. The police are going to resent it and it's not getting to the root cause. It's not possible in a classroom of 30 kids to manage a disruptive child. What schools need is money for smaller classes, well-trained counsellors and therapists and conflict resolution training.

"The report puts a lot of emphasis on what pressure will be put on schools. Again they are portraying all this as the teachers' fault. I'm glad they have decided to conduct some research into the reasons for truancy, because then they might get a better idea of what the real problems are."

Pat Dwyer, deputy head of Durham Johnston school, Durham: "Giving parents pagers and enabling the police to bring in truants are very good ideas. We are piloting the pager scheme. It's too early to say how well it works, but it seems to be a great help. The kids know we've got the pagers, and that they're going to be checked on more rigorously.

"I'm glad the Government is looking at parents as well as schools. Where parents are not prepared to help the authority needs to be able to take them to court. I agree with them about looking for alternatives to exclusion. We are looking at developing alternatives, such as some form of isolation. But what we don't want to do is lower our standards."

Cathy Cooper

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