Friday, March 23, 2007

 

Fining Post 16 SLA Truants Would be a Disaster

Occasionally I find I have to rub my eyes in disbelief at some of the government's actions. As a teacher I probably experience this more than most in other professions but such an occasion happened to be this morning when I read that the government is seeking to enforce its raised school leaving age to 18 with fines and Asbo attendance orders. What on earth can Alan Johnson, a rare but authentically working class politician, have been thinking of? The arguments against this absurd policy spring so readily to mind, it defies belief that Johnson and his advisers were not swayed by them:

i) Already a proportion- many of them living in the sink council estates- of those required to stay in school until 16 are hopelessly disengaged from the system and would be better off working than either skipping classes or attending but disrupting them out of boredom and the perversity it breeds. It only needs a few really disenchanted kids to make teaching impossible or at least excessively stressful for teachers.

ii) Adding to their number with even more alienated youngsters will only make matters much worse, as any teacher with experience of this age group will vouchsafe.

iii) Fining truants or slapping down Asbos will merely criminalize the people the measure is designed to assist and drive them further onto and beyond the bounds of society.

The alternative is to reinvent post 16 education to make it genuinely beneficial and attractive in laying the foundations of adult careers. A tough requirement I know but rather than this policy of compulsion I think it better to leave the SLA where it is. Though with youngsters not being affected until 2015 there is still time to row back from this potentially disastrous course. Lets hope the government of the day- and I note the Tories are against compulsion- will see sense in time.

Comments:
I agree with a lot of this. Anyone seriously advocating keeping everyone in some form of forced education is either completely detached from a large section of our young people, or just just completely foolish.

It is classic Nu Labor. To believe that a good intention will somehow solve any problem. As you said, there is already a problem keeping a fair few of "our" younger people in school until 16. Anybody with any wit would be considering a solution to this problem. Indeed a tendency to offer more so called vocational courses seems to recognise this problem. The only flaw with these courses has been the leftie attempt to give these kind of courses(many of which are completely Mickey Mouse) some kind of moral equivalency to more serious studies at decent universities.

So the solution is quite simple. Let them leave school earlier if they wish. For those that are worthy and willing, offer them opportunities. But that doesn't mean wasting a lot of money in forcing a bunch of unwilling and often disruptive morons to undertake dumbed down rubbish in the believe that it is "education".
 
So the government wishes to fine 16 & 17 yr olds - who, contrary to what the ageism of common discourse would have you believe, are legally autonomous agents - for being unemployed; but still give money to many long-term unemployed who happen to be 18+. Madness indeed.

Oh, and how exactly are unemployed 16 & 17 yr olds expected to pay for a court fine and legal costs?
 
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