Saturday, 7 November 2015

Only in England #1

I thought at first this was a joke....but it is the Guardian and was actually a very long story. This is the gist of it......

Furious parents have come to the defence of the headteacher of their children’s primary school after she was criticised for making children walk around corridors with their hands clasped behind their backs.

Opinions at the school gate outside St George the Martyr primary school in central London were sharply polarised on Thursday between parents who described the new measure as “oppressive” and “dictatorial” and others who found it either insignificant or positively helpful in reinforcing good behaviour.

The school’s executive headteacher, Angela Abrahams, came under fire after she introduced what she called “the university walk” in the tiny Church of England primary school in Holborn. Children, aged four to 11, are told to clasp their hands behind their backs as they make their way around school.

“Our recently introduced university walk inspires children to be the best they can be and to ‘go shine in the world’ [the school’s motto],” Abrahams told the Camden New Journal.

“It was introduced to strengthen pupil safety, further raise the aspirations of pupils and to maximise learning time. Staff report that they appreciate the impact it has had on learning time and pupils continue to be very happy and excited about learning.” (really?)

One set of parents, unhappy about the new policy, are complaining they do not feel their views are being listened to. On Thursday another group of parents collecting their children from the school gate queued to express their support for the school and Abrahams.

Carly Taylor, who has three daughters at the school, was unhappy about the new measure. She said that Ofsted, which rated the school “outstanding”, had particularly complimented the school and its pupils on their good behaviour and there was no need for extra measures.

Michael Reiss, professor at the Institute of Education, University College London, said he thought the measure was not appropriate in England in 2015. He said even children in Jane Austen’s novels were not made to walk around with their hands locked behind their backs.

“I have every sympathy with headteachers trying to lift the aspiration and behaviour standards of pupils in their schools. However, in this instance I do think Angela Abrahams has gone a step too far.

“This is not a situation where pupils are being abused. Far worse things happen in schools across the world. Nevertheless expecting primary pupils to walk down corridors with their hands clasped behind their backs is simply not appropriate in England in 2015.”

“Even in Jane Austen’s novels pupils are not expected to walk around with their hands clasped behind their backs. I’m very in favour of high standards of pupil behaviour but forcing pupils to adopt unnatural behaviours risks being counterproductive.”

Alan Newland, former headteacher and teacher trainer, said, however: “I’m always cautious of being critical of headteachers because I’ve been there.

“If a new headteacher identifies that there are some serious issues about behaviour in a school, ( apparently there weren't) I can imagine they would want to stamp their authority and teach the children to behave appropriately. But collective punishment is never a good idea.”

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