Wednesday, April 27, 2005

UK School Chaos Shown in Documentary

A new documentary on British secondary schools, filmed by a teacher who returned to UK public schools after a 30 year absence, "shows pupils swearing in class, searching for porn on the internet, assaulting each other and refusing to co-operate with or respect their teachers." The teacher, who used the pseudonym Sylvia Thomas, used a camera concealed in a briefcase and a "microphone disguised as a jacket button."

Her experiences, chronicled in Classroom Chaos on Channel 5, will disturb parents who already suspect that their children are receiving a far from perfect education. At the end of her first day, the teacher describes how she went home and "sobbed my heart out, thinking: 'Is this what education has come to?' "

During an English lesson with year 9 pupils, which begins with several boys punching each other and swearing, a pupil responds to her attempts to discipline him by saying: "I'll come to your house and blow you up."

In another lesson, after several attempts to make pupils be quiet, a boy's voice can be heard calling out: "Suck me off, Miss."

A pupil aged 11 or 12 swears after being asked to be quiet and the teacher says: "Do not talk to me like that, please." He replies: "Don't talk to me like that - I've got my rights, you know."

American civil rights activists will be gratified to hear that. The ACLU has made sure that American school children can pretty much do or say anything they want in American public high schools without any real consequences - and certainly no chance of punishment. The result has been to transform American public schools into municipal sewers. Apparently, the same forces have been busy "reforming" British education as well.

Pupils drift into lessons, sometimes 15 minutes late. They use mobiles and hide under desks. They arrive with crisps and other food despite notices on the doors prohibiting eating or drinking during the lesson. They get up and leave lessons despite being told to sit down.

More than all the swearing and the disruption, it is the constant level of noise that may take viewers aback. When one class is silent and working hard, the teacher says she finds it "eerie" because it is such a change.

Of the six lessons that Miss Thomas teaches at one school, she estimates that pupils learn something in only two of them. The rest are lost to "low-level disruption" or worse.

Miss Thomas says that when she was teaching in large state secondary schools in the 1970s, "being cheeky" meant nothing more serious than whispering in the back row. During her recent experience she was shocked to discover that one school, which is not alone, had a police officer based on the premises.

When a boy is searching for pornography on the internet, he says to the teacher: "I just typed in anal, didn't I?" The police officer is summoned.

Nurses described how youngsters in parts of London were starting to take part in a practice known as "daisy-chaining" where they get together to have sex in groups.

Delegates at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) annual congress in Harrogate said the role of the school nurse had changed dramatically in recent years.

They also pointed out that the number of school nurses needed to double to make sure all children had access to their services.

The role of school nurses is often seen as providing immunisations and checking children for nits.

But now increasing rates of sexual disease, teenage binge drinking and drug abuse have widened their job description significantly.

Judy McRae, a sexual health nurse in London, said: "Colleagues are coming across reports of groups of young people having sex in large groups.

"It is known as daisy-chaining and is obviously very worrying as far as sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy is concerned.

"As we understand it, it involves groups of older teenagers going round to each other's homes and having sex in a similar way as swinging.

"It is very new and is only just starting to be talked about."


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