Anorak News | Playing Away

Playing Away

by | 22nd, September 2005

‘YOUR school days are the happiest of your life, so goes the line. And it’s true. At what other time in life are you free, fit and able to wander round a shopping centre for hours, sit on a park bench and find interesting things to sniff?

‘Please, miss, can I go to the toilet… at Blue Water?’

School itself is an atrophying mess of confused teaching methods, meaningless exams and geography. The days out are the best bits.

After all, how can so many pupils be so wrong? As the Times reports on its front page (“state schools in crisis over standards and rising truancy”) 55,000 pupils played truant every day in the past school year.

Most of these truants are teenagers (nearly 800,000 of the just shy of 1.4million total were in their teens).

And while the percentage of truants from private schools was 0.13 per cent, in the city academies (those shiny new state-funded, independently run schools) the average pupil absence was estimated to be 2.84 per cent, more than twice that of state secondary schools, at 1.25 per cent.

The Times says that the figures, produced by the Department of Education and Skills, mean that the number of children bunking off school has risen by a whopping 43 per cent since Labour took office in 1997.

Education, education, education is all very well and good, but little Jake’s mum and dad are out at work all day and they’ve got cable TV.

But Jacqui Smith, the Schools Minister, says that school attendance is higher than ever. As Smith says: “It is disappointing that a stubborn minority of pupils, estimated at 8,000 in just 4 per cent of secondary schools, remain determined to jeopardise their education and their futures.”

So it’s hard core of truants she wants to break. So much for headline making 55,000 – Smith is concerned about the 8,000 serial truants.

Ms Smith wants to get the absconders back into school. But if they don’t want to go, how can you make them? Perhaps if Bianca won’t go to the blackboard, the blackboard can come to Bianca and schools can relocate to the shopping precinct? Perhaps schools can introduce a GCSE in shopping centres?

The wayward youths can then be tutored in ways to pass exams, like their peers, and then go onto take more exams that will allow them to enter the prefabricated splendour of further education.

And the figures bear out the impression that getting students into higher education is the end not the means, as the Telegraph says nearly a quarter of first-year students drop out of college or university.

Why? Are they homesick, as the Education Council suggests? Perhaps. Are they scared off by the spectre of tuition fees, introduced in the late 1990s? Maybe.

Or do these students wake up to realise that having been cajoled into spending even more of their lives in a classroom by a flawed Government policy, they are finally free to make their own decisions, to do something useful with their lives, to go out and have fun?


Posted: 22nd, September 2005 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink