Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Hunt gets it wrong again

The news that Tristram Hunt believes "chraracter can be taught" and wants teacher training colleges to "include the teaching of resilience" in their courses, so that young people will be taught how to "bounce back from setbacks", reveals at least two important points.
   The first is that this privately-educated Labour spokesperson for education knows very little about state schools, or the people involved with them. If he spent more time talking to teachers and pupils he would soon see that state schools produce fully-rounded characters, full of wit, compassion, kindness, determination, ambition and aspiration, fully able to analyse and evaluate, and to spot the duplicity of politicians. A Labour front-bencher going through picket-lines of strikers taking industrial action because of their desperate need for a living wage, will not have gone unnoticed.
    Secondly, does Hunt think our state school students do not possess resilience already? Many of them "bounce back" from setbacks in the home every day, not to mention how all of them have had to show resilience in the face of assessment "goalposts" being constantly moved, and their excellent examination results being criticised by politicians from all parties. Then there`s the Education Maintenance Allowance being removed, 6th form courses dropped because of lack of government funding, university fees being hiked, the preference shown by so-called top universities for students from private schools, plus the knowledge that no-one in politics is bothered by this block to social mobility, which means the top jobs are beyond thereach of all but a lucky few from the state sector. If some lack the confidence of their wealthier peers, it will hardly be a surprise, but Hunt`s implication that private schools "teach" character and resilience better smacks of a combination of bias and ignorance.

    It would be helpful if politicians stopped treating education as a football capable of scoring points at the expense of the other parties, and concentrated instead on providing equality of opportunity, praising the excellent work being done by teachers and pupils in our state schools, and building on it.  

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