Those are the words
of Neil Roskilly, Chief Executive of the Independent Schools Association. In a display of private sector/state sector co-operation, I am happy to agree with Mr Roskilly. (Perhaps Michael Gove will bring the two sectors together after all, in united opposition to his policies.)
Readers will know about MIchael Gove advising traditional punishments
for misbehaviour. Where to start with what is wrong with what he came up with?
First, is it really the role of the Secretary of State to start telling teachers how they should punish their students? If as a governor I advised on whether to use litter picking or detentions I would be (rightly) accused of getting too involved in the detail of my school.
Second, getting kids to write lines. As Michael Rosen pointed out, if we want young people to enjoy writing , does it really make sense to use it as a punishment?
Michael Gove, just because a practice was used in your school 40 years ago does not mean it makes sense today (or even that it made sense then).
To quote Mr Roskilly again: "It all suggests a very rosy view of history and discipline in the past. I don't think parents look back at their own schooldays and think that's what they want. I remember the days when if somebody did something wrong, the whole class would be slippered. Parents today would be horrified", going on to describe Gove's proposals as "silly".
We can all agree that good behaviour is an essential part of an effective school and that disruption in classrooms gets in the way of learning. But is punishment the only solution the Secretary of State has to offer? What about praise, about support, about understanding and helping our young people. Or is that just too blobby of me?
If you watched Educating Yorkshire you will know that, yes, punishments were used. But you will also have seen the dedication, support and engagement that the head and the teachers used to reach some of their troubled (and troublesome) kids. Those were scenes that anybody who has taught in a comprehensive will recognise and it is an aspect of schools that Mr Gove seems unable to grasp.
And amidst the line writing, detentions and litter picking there is one strategy that Gove didn't mention and may even be unaware of. This is possibly because it didn't exist 40 years ago. That strategy is Restorative Justice, where the perpetrator is brought to face the victim and understand their feelings. As a Chair, I have had many parents come to me and tell me how their child had been bullied (or, sometimes, that they had been the bully), and how Restorative Justice had worked to solve the problem. In some cases the pupils had even become close friends.
Indeed the year that Restorative Justice was introduced saw a big fall in reported bullying (as measured in the annual confidential student survey). Or as @appensieve responded when I tweeted on this: "Restorative justice in our primary has been huge success. Behaviour has improved so much." I know the same is true of schools across the country.
I think there is less of a Berlin wall between the private and state school sectors than there is between the Secretary of State and the entire teaching profession. Gove's policies may play well with Daily Mail headline writers but they are not working with the public. Last night on BBC News Nick Robinson reported that polls conducted for the Liberals revealed the best strategy to gain popularity was to publicly attack Gove, suggesting he is the most unpopular politician in the current government.
Which is good to know. Because the public, it appears, does not want a return to the schools of the 50s and 60s. They see through the headline-grabbing statements and want instead schools that their children enjoy going to and that enable them to learn and flourish.
Notes: My thanks to Allan Beavis for the Western Daily Press article and to Paul Reddick for pointing out the absence of Restorative Justice in Gove's statement.