Paul Stainton: Classroom crisis cannot carry on

Peterborough has a problem and it's struggling to add up. In fact, if the latest Sat test figures are to be believed, subtracting, reading and writing are a bit of a concern too.

Saturday, 10th September 2016, 4:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 4:04 pm
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host -

Embarrassingly, the city finished rock bottom of the national primary school, league tables, with sixty per cent of pupils in the city apparently unable to read their own graffiti, write more than LOL on their smartphone, or work out that two beans plus two beans, does not equal “some beans.”

Parents have a right to know what is going on in our schools, who is to blame for this mental morass and just what is being done to address it.

The city MP, Stewart Jackson, has called the results “appalling & unacceptable & unsustainable,” not great grammar, but you get his point. He claims that we need new thinking and a fresh approach but that is a bit rich coming from a man whose government claimed that academies were the panacea to all our learning woes – It’s claimed that five out of the seven worst performing Peterborough schools are academies.

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The government has also spectacularly failed to live up to its promises on immigration, adding yet more stress to our already creaking classrooms.

Council leader, John Holdich, often cites the transient nature of our population and the sheer volume of those that don’t have English as a first language, as added 
pressures, but we have known all that for a long time. What are we doing about it?

The council may have little control over academies, but was cutting a dedicated council officer post for education, the right thing to do at this time?

Can the council leader also be cabinet member for Education, Skills, University and Communications, or should he take lessons in delegation?

Teachers blame the bad results on changes to the tests, but they were the same for everyone, so why did we fare so badly?

It may have something to do with our failure to attract teachers to the city, or the fact that their classrooms are full to bursting and their in-trays are clogged up with marking and endless streams of red tape.

Honestly, who would want to be a teacher these days?

When I was growing up and you misbehaved in class (and trust me, I did frequently) you got a clip round the ear from “Sir” and the belt from your dad when you got home.

These days the teacher only has to raise his voice to a child and you run the risk of being sued, or receiving a punch in the face from an irate parent, who thinks it’s your job to bring up their child.

The same sort of parents who are far too busy on Facebook to notice that little Jimmy can’t spell “Fink” or that he didn’t get breakfast that morning.

This crisis in our primary school classrooms cannot be allowed to continue and it is the duty of everyone concerned – Government, teachers, schools, parents and the council – To fix, what between them, they have broken.

Our children are being failed and you lot really must try harder.