Monday, 14 September 2009

Back to school

Well, a few days into the new school year at a new school for our lass and my wife has a 9 AM phone-call at work from the acting Deputy-Head.
It’s assembly time, and she’s read our note that if The Prodigy has to sit through religious guff she should be allowed to just sit quietly instead of praying or otherwise actively participating.
“I wanted to be clear. Can she actually attend the assembly?”
“Is there an alternative, such as a teacher to sit with her or other non-attenders?”
“Well, no. She’s the only one. Other parents never ask.”
“So, as you’re telling us there’s no alternative I think you’ve answered your own question. We have no problem with her learning about world religions, just don’t make her pray, and don’t embarrass her when she doesn’t. OK?”

I have to admit, while amused at the inability of the largest junior school in the North of the island to respect a child’s rights and meet their legal obligations, we’re astonished that, for once, a teacher actually read the note. Also amused that, while there is no teacher available to sit with her for 10 minutes as she happily reads a book, there’s always a posse of them to childmind the dingbats who come in and run a lunchtime Bible club.
Oh well. I suppose that’s a start. Only took three years. Christ on a bike, give them another decade and they’ll be noticing 95% of the kids aren’t even from churchgoing homes.
Actually, what’s more pathetic is that in a school of around 200 kids we’re the only parents defending our child from spook-chasing ignoramuses. But I think I know why.
The truth is, for all the carefully edited press releases each summer about a handful of kids getting a stack of ‘A’ grades, the Manx education system fails most kids. A hundred or so get away to uni every year, and most won’t come back. The rest will be lucky if there are enough unskilled or semi-skilled jobs to go around for more than a few years at a time, because the only thing they were really taught was to know their place.
And worst of all, having been made to feel like scum by teachers, politicians and educationalists in their school days, when they have their own kids and send them to school they lack the confidence to demand a better deal for the next generation, or even that schools deliver the little the law says they are entitled to.

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