I CONCUR with EJ Tilley (Your Say, WEP December 5) that there is much wrong in our schools when we are beaten into 20th place in the academic league tables by the likes of China and Singapore.
Where I would disagree is that he puts the blame on ‘educational tweaking’ by the government. This I feel is a red herring.
Poor education comes from poor schools, that we can’t deny.
Segregating pupils into grammar schools and non-grammar schools merely alters the distribution of attainment unless the basic cause of the malaise is addressed.
The problem is two-fold.
Many of our young people have lost their work ethic.
They simply do not need to work as hard to do well in their exams.
This applies across the range of abilities.
The increasing simplicity of examinations and other forms of assessment has devalued the qualifications.
Grades have been inflated and, qualification-wise, our children have been getting more for less compared with a few years previously.
Discipline in schools is not good.
Schools would like it to be good, but the problem is societal.
Pupils who disrupt are given labels for their condition.
The parents of many such pupils are often happy with this. It is a licence for the child to behave badly.
No punishment or constraint can be allowed because of this medicalisation of a social problem.
The naughty child is frequently supported in his or her behaviour by the parent.
The teachers find it impossible to handle this child, are offered little support and find their lessons disrupted.
We have to be careful in our comparisons with China etc.
They do better because their children work harder.
The means employed to gain this superiority may be questioned and there are human rights issues.
I can only quote from an acquaintance of mine, who is a teacher in China, who describes his charges as ‘a delight’.
Be sensible on your bike
Apparently, it is ‘cycling awareness’ time. I watched a TV interview with a ‘cycling awareness inspector’ (where do these people get these titles from?).
One bright spark was asked how do cyclists stay safe on the roads? Now that isn’t rocket science – all one needs to do is partake in a cycling proficiency test.
If you plan to take to the busy roads, just do what most car drivers do and take some commonsense precautions.
Example, make sure your bike is fitted with lights, both on the front – and on the back. Make sure your wheels are in good condition.
Wear a protective helmet.
And most important of all, do make sure you’re road worthy and competent to cycle on roads.
Always give hand signals, and let car drivers know what you’re going to do.
When I was at primary school, we took part in a school cycling proficiency test, but sadly, these courses were scrapped.
But, back to my original point, to stay safe on our roads, all cyclists have to do is follow some simple road rules, which will enable them to cycle in safety, and also allow us pedestrians to walk in complete safety.