… over the last year my colleagues and I have watched with growing despair as the last shreds of the rug are pulled out from under our kids' feet. EMA gone. Youth centres closed. Tuition fees trebled. University places cut. And now a thinktank has warned that students from low-income families are even less likely to be offered university places next year.Oh, woe is you, Saci! But at least you aren’t using that as an apology for their actions. Are you?
Do I think this gives them the right to run riot through city centres and set upon ordinary working people? No, I do not. But ask me if I think young people have the right to be angry as all hell and I will give you an unequivocal yes.They have as ‘right to be angry’, do they?
Well, so what? We all do. I have a right to be angry about all sorts of things, if I want. That doesn’t, however, make my anger justified.
If rioting is unforgivable then equally indefensible is the lack of training and investment in the inner city. If looting is criminal then equally immoral is the abandonment of whole tranches of the urban landscape to decay and gang law.Who is it you think has ‘abandoned them’, Saci?
… day after day I teach students who have to take three buses to college to avoid travelling through enemy territory. They arrive in class at nine, nerves rattling, exhausted already before the day has begun.Hmmm. Bet some robust policing or stop and search would help, eh?
So, why are you not calling for it?
… those of us working in inner-city schools, youth centres and community organisations find ourselves in the crosshairs of moralists who wouldn't last five minutes in the place. No school discipline. Widespread lack of respect in the classroom. These soundbites are an offence to a whole bunch of dedicated professionals who are striving to reach the highest possible standards for their students.And the question must be, are you succeeding? You certainly seem to think you are:
Many inner-city colleges now have a pastoral system that would astonish the previous generation, with strong emphasis on personal accountability and giving back to the community.How about an anecdote? Give us some details, eh?
As A-level results come out with record pass rates, the press drools over photogenic girls celebrating their A* grades. And good luck to them – they worked hard and they deserve their university places. Meanwhile, one of my brightest students wasn't even able to sit her exams because she's awaiting trial following a police raid on her house. They found her in possession of her boyfriend's sawn-off shotgun. He'd asked her to hide it for him. She didn't want to, but felt she had no choice. Stupid? Yes. Wrong? Yes. But what a position for a 17-year-old east London schoolgirl to find herself in, barely two miles from the penthouse apartments of Canary Wharf, and as far from the lives of the A* girls as it's possible to be.Oh, I don’t even know where to start…
Could we do more? Yes. Many of these young people rioting on the streets have dropped out of education.Really? A lot of the ones caught so far have put ‘student’ on their court papers. A lot aren’t even students, rather, grown men and women!
But I’ll indulge you. What’s the answer?
Educational institutions need to be prepared to keep underperforming students for longer, to work with a wider range of frontline youth groups to engage difficult students in more creative ways – and colleges also need to offer more flexible learning hours so that a young person can fit in schooling around their work shifts.How much longer? What ‘more creative ways’?
Like it or not, these kids are not someone else's problem. They are ours and it's high time we welcomed them back home.They aren’t mine. And if it’s up to anyone to welcome them back, surely it’s their own parents?