Alf will be suggesting to The Boss today that maybe we should think about hiring a fellow called Mike Wilshaw – Sir Michael Wilshaw, actually – who says deprivation too often is used to explain poor performance in the classroom.
That’s exactly what is happening in this country. If a kid performs badly at school, the squawk goes up about poverty – especially if indigenous persons are involved.
Well, get this.
Sir Michael reckons poverty too often is used as an excuse for educational failure among white working-class families in Britain.
In the case of Britain, when you talk about “whites” your are talking about the indigenous people.
Moreover Sir Michael wants school heads empowered to fine mothers and fathers who fail to support their children’s education.
If they don’t read to their children – for example – then wham!
The negligent buggers will be fined $100 or whatever happens to be an appropriate penalty.
These are refreshing ideas and seem particularly relevant to all the howz-your-father going on in this country about child poverty, the poor achievement of the the sprogs of low-income parents, and so on.
Most fascinating, pupils from migrant families are outperforming their white British counterparts in the classroom because many hold a deep cultural belief in the value of education, Sir Michael says.
The Daily Mail (here) says:
Last year, research by the Centre for Social Justice revealed only 26 per cent of poor white British boys attain five A* to C grades at GCSE including maths and English – compared with 40 per cent of black boys and 63 per cent of the country as a whole.
And what are Sir Michael’s credentials?
He happens to be the head of Britain’s schools watchdog, Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. It reports directly to Parliament but describes itself as independent and impartial. It inspects and regulates services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages.
Maybe we should have something similar.
And maybe we need someone with Sir Michael’s balls to run it.
His comments have been made as Britain’s Education Minister, Michael Gove, draws up plans for tougher sanctions – including cutting child benefit – in cases where pupils do not turn up to school without good reason.
Penalty notices of £60 can already be issued by headteachers and local authorities if parents do not ensure their children attend school up to the age of 16.
More than 52,000 fixed- penalty notices were issued to parents last year – of which just over half were paid within 28 days.
The Guardian covers the story too and reports Sir Michael as saying:
* Teachers should confront “bad parents”, and
* Heads should be given powers to fine mothers and fathers who fail to support their kids’ education.
Sir Michael Wilshaw called for headteachers to be given the authority to impose financial penalties on parents who allow homework to be left undone, miss parents’ evenings or fail to read with their children.
The head of the schools watchdog, Ofsted, also said that poverty was too often used as an excuse for educational failure among white working-class families, whose children were often outperformed by those from immigrant communities.
His comments come after the education secretary, Michael Gove, indicated that parents would face “stronger sanctions” if they failed to ensure their children turned up to school and behaved properly, potentially in the form of deductions from benefits.
It seems he has been speaking about his own experiences as a headteacher in London’s inner-city schools and the Guardian article is based on something he told the Times. For example:
“I was absolutely clear with parents; if they weren’t doing a good job I would tell them so. It’s up to headteachers to say quite clearly: ‘You’re a poor parent’.
“If parents didn’t come into school, didn’t come to parents’ evening, didn’t read with their children, didn’t ensure they did their homework, I would tell them they were bad parents.
“I think headteachers should have the power to fine them. It’s sending the message that you are responsible for your children no matter how poor you are.”
Here’s the thing.
Not all schools in low-income areas do badly.
Not in Britain, anyway.
Wilshaw praised some schools in inner-city areas as among the best-performing, saying:
“London is showing that all children can do well, including poor children, and what we need to do is replicate what’s happening here elsewhere. There’s too much variability and inconsistency across the country.”
And now we come to a real nugget.
The problem lies among the indigenous people (if “indigenous” means “our boat got here before yours”).
The Guardian says:
It was striking that white British children were now doing worst of all, he said, and the gap between white British children from poorer families and those from other ethnic groups needed closing to catch up with the world’s leading nations.
“Immigrant communities are doing very well educationally and it should be recognised that they have added value to this country’s performance,” he said.
Can indigenous persons bring their comparative poverty – as well as all that stuff about colinisation – into considerations?
It seems not.
Poverty was all too often used as an excuse for failure by white working-class families, he added, saying: “It’s not about income or poverty. Where families believe in education they do well. If they love their children they should support them in schools.”
Wilshaw also said he agreed with the UK government’s reforms to exams and called for the return of textbooks.
He backed Gove’s plans for radical changes, calling them “absolutely necessary”, and urged heads to embrace their increased autonomy and “get on with it”.
“Stop moaning, that’s my message to headteachers.”
We could do with a good dose of this attitude.
Dunno what happens if the parents can’t read or have no money. Maybe we could stick them in the dunce’s corner for a day or two.