The independent London newspaper

Children paying the price of the education ‘business’

26 October, 2017

THERE is an epidemic spreading throughout the capital in particular which gets little mention in the mainstream media. Partly because it has not yet been spotted by commentators. Partly because nothing, it seems, can be done about it. But it should not be ignored.

It is the rolling wave of youngsters thrown out of school, presumably, as uneducable, and then penned into “referral units” which are given fancy names in order to conceal what they are.

We suspect there are hundreds of youngsters, often in their early teens, in such places that tend to sink into what used to be called reformatories.

Of course, teachers in these places make every effort to provide the education the children either didn’t get or wouldn’t accept in their other schools. Thus, they had become disruptive, making life hell for teachers who are part of a profession that is itself going through the equivalent of a nervous breakdown with teachers – often underpaid – swamped by governors, usually in academies, chasing them for better and better results which guarantee more income for the school.

There have been such referral units for decades. Once they were called “sin bins”. But not on the scale of today. The causes are multiple – an all-pervasive tabloid-type popular culture on TV and the social media, fewer opportun­ities for skilled employment, poor housing conditions.

We are paying the price of an unregulated free market, neo-liberalism at its worst.

Education, like other sectors of the economy, needs to be reformed – not along the lines of a deregulated system that encourages schools to become little businesses. Education is a human right.

Children’s lives shouldn’t be thrown away like an unwanted commodity.

Dire choice

FORTUNATELY, common-sense has prevailed at the court hearing into a possession order for the home of a family that had lived on the Chalcots estate.

They have now been given time to present their case, and, in the meantime we gather, council housing officials are due to meet them for further talks.

The family moved into a home in Highgate and fear a return to the Chalcots, still to be modernised and made fire-safe. As we said last week, the eviction of a family is a dire choice – and a political one. It should not be taken by Camden.

Wendy’s way

ONE of the biggest social problems is the loneliness engulfing too many elderly. What a gust of fresh air from Wendy Richards who shows what we can all do as individuals, without leaving everything to institutions and local government. We need more people like Wendy Richards to change society in other ways too.

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