Will cash help unruly children?;Letter;News amp; Opinion

3rd December 1999 at 00:00
SIR CYRIL Taylor is magnanimous in suggesting that undersubscribed schools that take on "problem pupils" should receive pound;5,000 per pupil (TES, November 19). It's what's needed to help cope with difficult young people.

But two issues need to be raised. The first is about the source of these extra funds. Sir Cyril doesn't for one minute suppose that the lucky oversubscribed schools are to foot the bill, does he?

I'm sure that the Government will not release "new money" for such a scheme, however much ministers may already support it. What will probably happen is that pupils identified as troublesome, by virtue of their exclusion from one school, will take money with them from the excluding school to the receiving school. It would be another attempt to cut exclusions, without addressing the real causes of disaffection among children.

The second issue is how to identify such children. A school with an ineffective policy on management of behaviour will find many such children on its books. Teachers in secondary schools, with the extra funding that age brings with older pupils, have the chance to cope more effectively than key stage 2 teachers with overcrowded classrooms.

Schools with sound and fully-funded support from education authority school psychology services may also stand a better chance with difficult children.

Meanwhile, social inclusion policies, however well-intentioned, continue to increase the difficulties that teachers face in the under-subscribed schools. I'd rather call them ghetto schools, for they are often perceived to be such by parents, communities and local authorities.

Andy Garner

ATL executive member


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