Busk Meadow, Sheffield, S5
I thank J Bunting for the invitation in their letter "School Security" Star, November 6, to offer my views on what has happened to our schools since we were both educated in the 1950s.
To me, the gradual erosion of school teaching, discipline and scholastic achievement since our schooldays is due to several factors, a key one being the different family life, parental control and moral standards of that time. Children were brought up in two parent families and it was frowned upon for someone to give birth out of wedlock. In those days, rightly or wrongly, a child was classed as illegitimate whereas today there are many single parent families, some due to reasons beyond the parent's control, but increasingly some who think having a "love" child and the resulting welfare benefits go cap in hand.
Children were taught to respect their elders and discipline in schools was much more in evidence than it is today. School masters/mistresses were suitably dressed and shown respect by their pupils. Any serious offence was dealt with by detention or corporal punishment. There were no security fences around the schools and definitely no security guards patrolling the school corridors
I suggest that there has been a change of educational approach to schooling and discipline emanating from respective Governments. Teachers are unable to control their classes as they would wish, for fear of repercussions from the school authority and parents if they "upset" their charges by exerting their authority. Another major factor is the erosion of the visible presence of a police force in this country. Children were brought up to respect the local bobby - if you did something wrong you sometimes got a clip around the ear from "the law" - if you complained to your parents you got another one from them for "doing something wrong to make him hit you!" I appreciate that in this modern age that cannot be tolerated but it is a factor in children running wild and being unused to discipline.
A third reason is I suggest the vast increase in immigration into this country placing a strain on already limited education resources. Having a reported 35 different languages spoken at Fir Vale School is hardly conducive to integrated classes and bringing out the best in the students.What can be done to rectify this sorry situation? With the demise of family life and moral standards as we knew them and the current restraints placed upon teaching staff regarding appropriate discipline in schools, I do not have a ready solution. In fairness to teachers they are doing an excellent job working under modern disciplinary constraints.