March 17, 2003
You can't have it both ways

This story is about an attempt by a London primary school head to chuck out the children of what seem to be some particularly malevolent "traveller" families has been rumbling along for some time now. It's yet further evidence of the vital importance of teachers not having to teach people they don't want to teach.

A head teacher fears for the future of his primary school after being told he must continue to teach children from two traveller families after a vicious attack on a parent in the playground.

Police have been stationed at the school gates following the violent incident, witnessed by 300 children, in which a governor was also injured.

It has left parents, pupils and staff traumatised but the local education authority has refused to move the children of the families allegedly responsible and the head teacher has been told he cannot exclude them.

Last year the Government pledged a "zero tolerance" campaign against violent parents and Stephen Twigg, the education minister, said pupils could be excluded in exceptional cases for the misdeeds of their parents. But Colin Lowther, 48, the head teacher of Southfield Primary in Ealing, west London, says he is powerless to act against the families, and parents are moving their children to other schools because of them.

The incident is alleged to have followed four months of aggression and threats from mothers and two 14-year-old girls.

A parent governor has resigned and another has transferred her daughter to another school since the attack on Tuesday last week.

This story is the crisis in domestic policy of our present British Government in a microcosm. The Government is flailing about like a spoilt child. It demands "inclusiveness", and it demands that all those whom it "includes" shall behave themselves properly or else!! It is zero tolerant, and it is infinitely tolerant.

In other settings the Government demands rising prosperity and rising taxes. It demands train fares that are "reasonably" priced, and it demands that all trains run on time, or else, without any accidents, ever ever ever!!! It demands a world class national health service costing little or even nothing at the point of use, and demands that there be no queues for its ever more chaotic services. It tells the army to be the world's social worker, but won't even buy it proper boots let alone guns.

And this is me taking it to one side and patiently explaining that reality is reality, and that there are some things you can't have. You can't spend the pocket money I gave you today on sweeties, and be able to spend the same money tomorrow on a nice present for granny. You'll only be able to buy granny a present now if I give you a present of more money first. The universe works the way it works. And telling the universe that it's not fair won't impress it one bit.

Sorry. I'm getting too political. I'll go and stand in the corner and think about what I've just said.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 12:07 PM
Category: Politics