I was intrigued to see this headline on the BBC website:
“Lagging pupils 'don't catch up’”
I see that standards at the BBC are slipping if they allow such shoddy and ambiguous usage. I confess to being out of touch with modern practices in education, what with my having left school over forty years ago, and all the restraining orders.
There were some pretty bizarre ideas in those days, even in my progressive school. Some teachers thought that religious education was a sound idea, others that there was some merit in woodwork, other than providing a hobby for the socially challenged. To the best of my recollection, and I confess to having been partial to a spot of distraction now and then (mainly then, and I fear that I need hardly stress that the spot mentioned was not one of the smaller varieties of that genus), but I cannot remember anyone putting forward the idea that lagging pupils was a practice with any practical benefit. In my view it rather seems like the policy that would be proposed by a pervert.
Rather the opposite seems to have been on the curriculum in my day. I remember the winter of 1963, struggling down the road through two feet of snow, and then waiting for 40 minutes or so for the ancient bus and its even more ancient driver to arrive and take us (unheated) round the byways of Leicestershire.
No-one ever showed much concern for us. Not even an offer to chip off the icicles hanging from our school blazers. Our school gym had a side missing, allowing snow, dog faeces and other obnoxious substances (PE teachers) to drift in and add to our discomfort. We lived in a bleak, colourless, dismal and ultimately draughty world and there was never any suggestion of insulating us.
I do not understand how wrapping children up could ever get to be a priority. Perhaps I am just being old fashioned. Free them, I say, let them experience the joy of the wind blowing through their hair, the sun shining on bronzed arms and legs, as they scamper unhampered through their youths before the grim realisation that their futures have been shaped by Wackford Gove hits them.