Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Don't lose the focus on standards
Reports in today's Guardian that a DCSF working group wants to hold schools responsible for everything from obesity to drug abuse are rightly greeted with alarm by the teaching associations (although the group involved seems to include their members). While it is right for schools to offer healthy meals and teach the dangers of drugs, schools cannot effectively act as an alternative to the family and social services, while at the same time providing the good rounded education and qualifications that young people need to get on. There is no harm getting more information on social problems - though government should be careful to avoid loading too much bureaucratic responsibility on schools - but ministers should be wary of anything that shifts the focus from standards to social services. Schools with overall high standards tend to be the best at dealing with discipline and social problems; they also tend to be the ones who do most to lift pupils out of poverty. Don't let's lose that vital focus.