Anorak News | Hello, Mr Chips

Hello, Mr Chips

by | 9th, July 2004

‘WHY, hello again, Mr Chips. Labour yesterday revealed its big new plan to improve state education in this country – and it smacks of a return to traditional values.

‘I feel a real sense of pride in my school again, Jenkins’ ‘Me too, Barrett’

Of course, it smacks of nothing at all because smacking is all but banned, as are other traditional punishments like caning, flogging, buggering etc.

But, in what the Guardian describes as “a pre-election package unashamedly designed to win disillusioned middle-class voters back to the state sector”, we are to see the return of school uniform, a house system and competitive sport.

The Telegraph says the “back-to-basics” agenda is part of the Government’s much-trailed five-year education plan, which is designed to give schools more autonomy.

Of course, this autonomy depends on the schools doing exactly what the Government wants them to do.

For instance, Education Secretary Charles Clarke said he expected all schools to have uniforms.

“They help give pupils pride in their school,” he said, “and make them ambassadors for their school in the community.”

They also make pupils readily identifiable targets to other kids in the town, but maybe a bit of playful rough ‘n’ tumble is no bad thing.

We have no doubt that if things look like getting out of hand, the local bobby will be on hand to administer a clip round the ear and send the warring parties home to their parents.

Moves to reintroduce competitive sport are also likely to cause some confusion – only last week we reported how 50% of schools have now abandoned the traditional sports day in favour of non-competitive group activities.

And we wonder how reintroducing lumpy custard will encourage more children to stay on at school – the Independent reports that the OECD put the UK 27th out of 30 countries for the percentage of youngsters in full-time education after the age of 16.

Happily, however, the plans have united the broadsheet press – they all think the whole package stinks, albeit for different reasons.

The Times complains that grammar schools won’t be given the same freedoms as non-selective schools, the Telegraph optimistically suggests that it is evidence that the Tories have Labour on the run and the Guardian calls it “a leap in the dark”.

“If it isn’t how Tesco operate,” it asks of the new fragmented system, “why is the Prime Minister so keen on it?”

Far better to hand over the running of the nation’s schools to the giant supermarket chain and have done with it.’

Posted: 9th, July 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink