THE EDITOR: “It is time for fathers and mothers to return from their exile, because they have self-exiled from the education of their children, and to fully reassume their educational role … this can only be done with love, tenderness and patience” — Pope Francis.
Home, school, community partnerships in the education process is also important. The pope said “…the educational pact today has been broken; and thus the educational alliance between society and the family is in crisis because mutual trust has been undermined. There are many symptoms. For example, at school relationships between parents and teachers have been compromised.”
Are we helping children to become all that they are capable of becoming? Do we have a vision about the kind of society we would like to build? If so, how are we using this information to inform our goals in education and the planning/delivery of our education system? What is the quality of leadership/management in our schools? What are the barriers to effective teaching and learning in our schools? What is the role of school supervisors in promoting quality education? What early warning systems exist to inform us that a school may be failing/in crisis? What is the response in such situations?
These questions ran through my mind as I reflected on the three disturbing video-clips that I saw on Facebook of bullying, extortion and violence at one of our secondary schools. And while everyone was talking about what should be done to the students involved, another video-clip appeared on social media depicting a confrontation between the principal and some male students there.
I was troubled by what I heard the person saying to the students. And then there was the main perpetrator’s aunt who took to Facebook to cuss and try to defend the indefensible actions of her nephew.
The video-clip of a group of cowardly girls in one of our primary schools brutally assaulting a “schoolmate” highlights the challenges we face as a nation.
During my years as deputy director of education/head of quality assurance in a London borough, I constantly reminded parents and educators that children learn what they live.
If our parents fail in their duty of care for their children, and if our schools fail to create an environment that is conducive to teaching/learning/fostering good relationships at all levels; if they fail to develop whole-school approaches to discipline and prefer instead to confront students in a manner that will “wind” them up to respond with aggression, we will soon find ourselves further down the slippery slope.
Let’s consider indiscipline within the wider societal context in which there is too much anger and violence. What impact is this having on students? How are we using our knowledge of the main variables that influence students’ achievements?
Each school must consider the context in which teaching and learning is taking place; the overall effectiveness of the school; leadership and management; achievement and standards; personal development and well-being of students; the effectiveness/inclusiveness of the curriculum; the quality of provision, including resources; and home/school/community partnerships.
Schools/parents/students matter; and they should all be accountable. We need rigorous self-evaluation frameworks in our schools, coupled with independent external evaluation/assessment — such as the UK’s Ofsted inspection system, with a dedicated team of external school inspectors — or we will always have difficulties in determining how well our schools are doing/the quality and standard of education in our schools and what we need to do to help them manage improvement. What yardstick are we using to test “quality?”
As Pope Francis said, “Our children need sure guidance in the process of growing in responsibility for themselves and others.” Any parent and/or educator who abrogates his/her responsibility to guide the children in their care is simply adding to our daily woes.
chair, CCSJ and