Left Out Liberal

A left-wing/liberal look at the UK's General Election of 2005.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

You wouldn't have guessed an election was round the corner...

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly unveils yet another crackdown on school truancy.

The simple fact of school truancy is that kids skip classes for a reason. They don't due it out of pure maliciousness. It's either something like: (i) they see the lesson as irrelevant, (ii) the teaching is very poor, (iii) they are having problems at home, or even (iv) the parents have took them on holiday.

It's not an easy issue to tackle. But it sure makes for good headlines in the right-wing press when you start talking about your latest crackdown on those sinful, wicked and naughty schoolchildren who have No Respect For Authority! Bring back the birch, etc. etc.

The children in question have already been, to use the carrot and stick approach, "sticked" out of school by one of the above factors. It doesn't help anyone, and it doesn't solve the problem in the long run by trying to whip the children into submission and sending them back to school. They have to be encouraged. An adult needs to sit down and have a sensible discussion with the child in question, work out the factors involved, explain the importance of school for achieving the child's goal, and motivate them back into the mainstream. Truancy disappears if children make the decision of their own accord to go to school because they know that by doing so they are going to ultimately improve their life in the future.

Of course, this can also be linked back with the missed opportunity for reforms in the 14-19 education system that Ruth Kelly shyed away from earlier this week. Giving children more opportunities to study a wider range of things would allow them to pick what they feel is the best area for them, especially when it comes to vocational qualifications.

But unfortunately, approaches like this take more money, more effort, more time, and political backbone. Something which is in very short supply at election time.


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