The Sun reported this week that the Confederation of Small Businesses had claimed that bad teachers were to blame for the fact that so many young people were unemployable.
Improving school education is always important but blaming teachers won't improve an individual’s employability. The CBI has said that too many young jobseekers turn up late for interviews and lack basic manners. My own view is that this is nothing to do with teachers – this starts in the home, with struggling families and with individual responsibility.
Blaming teachers exacerbates the problem. It fails to tackle the root cause instead plays the blame game. Teachers cannot put right the ills of society in a few hours, 5 days a week in classes with 30 or more other pupils. Working parents battered by long hours, lower pay, tougher working conditions, insecurity in the workplace and at home can struggle to give their children the time that more affluent and capable parents can. Searching for an answer in the classroom is only a very small part of underachievement.
Early learning and extended schooling for those struggling are part of the solution. Shadow minister Stephen Twiggs idea that there should be consideration for retaining children in school until they are ready to progress is a more worthwhile suggestion.
We must not escape the very small minority who you cannot ‘put an arm around’; who are all already known to social services or the youth justice system. For these pupils they need to given an opportunity in a learning environment away from the chaotic problems that they are forced to live with day in day out.