Thursday, 23 January 2014

Private life in schools

There is a discussion in the following article about the effects on privacy with the implementation of GIRFEC in Scotland.
Children’s minister Aileen Campbell has said the approach would be useful in that a specific individual will have the responsibility of overseeing the wellbeing of specific children. As she put it, this will "make sure there is someone having an overview of what is happening to that child, to make sure that early indicators of anything that would pose a threat or risk to that child are flagged up".
Part of the plan is that professionals increasingly share information with one another so as to nip problems in the bud. Like the "every child matters" approach in England and Wales, "safeguarding" children is now the priority of anyone working with children, be that a teacher, a dentist, a youth worker, a swimming instructor and so on. And at one level this sounds OK – anything that stops child abuse…
Essentially, the idea of a specific person looking after the interests of a child coming with the name of "father" or "mother" has been lost from Scottish society – or at least lost within the corridors of power. Scotsman
More and more schools are involving themselves with issues about life and relationships with less time to spend on reading, writing and arithmetic. For instance, children`s sex education began to be rolled out across Glasgow, starting with primary 1 schoolchildren in 2009, with claims that this was endorsed by most parents. HERE

From a Glasgow City Council Management circular we are told that the approach to sex education should include active teaching and learning approaches, such as:
focused surveys and questionnaires
discussion and debate
analysis of information, case studies and statistics
quick think/brainstorm activities
`draw and write`
role-play and drama situations
problem solving opportunities
use of audio visual, computer, and information communication technologies
So every effort is going to be made to prevent children getting bored with the same subject. But there is something else going on:

Throughout the whole of the child`s education at school, what is being encouraged is the breaking down of barriers and reserve whilst facilitating intimate discussions between pupils and between pupils and teachers. Some people may see this as a healthy development, but does reserve not have a place in protecting children? Then again, if private thoughts are no longer allowed to remain private about very intimate matters where is privacy?

Moreover, in the context of discussions and role-play, where is the dividing line between education and grooming?  We do not know if the parents who approved of this, when sex education was being discussed with them, had any inkling of the GIRFEC approach. Somehow I doubt they would have been informed about the planned surveillance of children. For whilst all this debate and discussion is going on in classrooms, children will be monitored and opinions about their opinions will sometimes be placed in data storage units never to be erased. Some may live to regret the loss of their privacy.

Meanwhile parents, always under suspicion due to the GIRFEC approach, are expected to trust that a series of teachers and school assistants are always acting appropriately with their children during sex lessons. `Getting it right for every child` is certainly a very one sided arrangement. Has it been deliberately set up to get close to children in order to extract information from them?

Here is a link for a sample of the educational material - which comes with a warning about foul language;

No comments:

Post a Comment