I’m writing up a big piece for G2 about creationists and their attempts, helped by the government, to get a foothold in the British educational system. What makes it possible is the appalling state of many comprehensive schools: the one being targeted in Doncaster has managed to improve its pass rate at GCSE to 32%, but ten years ago it was 15%. These are fantastically awful figures. They mean that some children leave the school scarcely able to read and write.
Obviously this are not wholly the fault of the teachers; probably not even mainly the teachers’ fault. Everyone in the community can contribute to a failure like this.
One thing that helps the creationist schools is that they can expel pupils if they want to. they claim to use this power sparingly, and I am inclined to believe them. But the decision, if they take it, is theirs alone. It is very very hard for local authority schools to expel pupils. They are fined, the teachers say,. £4000 for every child they permanently exclude. Obviously, an expelled pupil is an external cost. Instead of wandering round the school disrupting things, he is on the loose in the community, and cluttering up the unemployment figures as well. But I am not sure that the other pupils in a school should bear this cost.
Talking to the local Teachers’ Union representative, (also the head of science in the school) I was gobsmacked by his defence of the policy. To throw out the disruptive children, he said, would make the school less representative of the community, since they were a part of it. And I thought, christ! if my children are part of a community with bullies in it, I want the community improved by throwing the bullies out. Nobody should have the right to say things like that who doesn’t send their own children to the school in question.