Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Layer 467 . . . A Message on Headed Notepaper

This is a fucking outrage - and all credit to the Guardian for highlighting it:

Parents angered by schools' promotion of home tuition schemes
Parents say tactics used by schools are pressurising them into signing up to home tuition schemes
by Sue Learner


Parents across the country are protesting about letters from their children's schools that help to market a DVD home tuition scheme. In return for sending out the letters on school headed notepaper, signed by the headteacher, the schools receive a payment for "administration costs".
The critics complain that some parents are signing up to the Student Support Centre's literacy and numeracy programme, which can cost thousands of pounds, because their school is advising them it "may be of benefit" to their children.
The headteacher's letter states: "I have been asked to distribute information on behalf of the Student Support Centre and, having reviewed the service they provide, feel it may be of interest to you and of benefit to your children." It adds: "Neither I nor the school actively endorse the service."
Bob Jefferson, whose daughter attends Towerbank primary in Edinburgh, calls it "an abuse of trust". "I don't feel that it is appropriate for the school to be promoting a private company. Quite a few parents at our school were upset about it. I know schools are strapped for cash, but it seems they are getting paltry sums of money, so why are they selling their souls to the devil?" he says.

Why indeed . . .

Contact details
More than 25,000 primary and secondary schools have sent out the SSC material, says the company, one of the largest UK providers of home tuition materials. Parents are urged by schools to return the form whether they are interested or not. They are asked for their contact details, which are passed on to the company.
The programme of DVD lessons for key stage 1-4 is backed by a tutor helpline, and children are given regular tests.

Of course they are. Tests and more tests - it's the only game in town. Forget education and forget the development of 'character' - it's all about testing now.
Zoe Hall signed up when her daughter was in year 8 at what was then Lindsey school and community arts college in Lincolnshire (now Cleethorpes academy). "She brought home a letter and, because it came from the school, I trusted it. I thought she could do with some extra maths tuition. So I returned the slip. A sales lady came to the house. She said: 'You can't put a price on your daughter's education', which made me feel very guilty."
Hall signed up at £65.60 a month and quickly regretted it, but was unable to cancel the contract because she missed the five-day cooling-off period (since changed to 14 days). "It makes me feel so angry," she says. "It has been a waste of money and has caused arguments in our family."
Hall says her daughter tried to follow the DVDs for six months in year 8. "She found it too hard. I don't think she even needed it in the first place. The sales woman assessed her as needing to do the programme, but she sat her mock GCSE in maths at Christmas [in year 11] and got a B [without using the programme]." At the end of the four years of her agreement, Hall will have paid out £3,148.80.
Martin Brown, principal of Cleethorpes academy, says: "We agreed to distribute the leaflets because we are often asked by parents where they can access good educational support outside of school. Having looked at the material provided by the Student Support Centre, we were confident that it could be of help to students as a home-based complement to their schoolwork. We do not endorse this company and we make this quite clear in the letter we send out. Our role is simply to distribute the leaflets, collect the return slips and pass them on to the company." 

These people have "a role"? No they don't. They just suck Satan's cock, as the sainted Bill Hicks would say.

There's outrage here about schools (and their headteachers) aiding and abetting commercial enterprises whose only interest is getting money out of gullible and concerned parents. There's outrage about doing this shit for the sake of a few quid. There's outrage about parents being fleeced for no good reason.

But the real outrage, which this article seems to overlook, is what's being inflicted on children. You can kind-of understand business people wanting to con their way to some big bucks. This is what we expect. What is TOTALLY unacceptable is the whole business of schools actively promoting the non-stop, ceaseless cramming of children who have much better things to do with their after-school time. And yes - playing computer games and kicking footballs and watching TV and reading books for pleasure are all MUCH better for kids than coaching and cramming for the fucking tests. Headteachers who secretly (or openly) welcome parents hiring private tutors (or purchasing expensive DVDs) to cram kids on the basis that their schools (and their careers) are bound to benefit from it are fucking hateful shits of the first order. To hell with the lot of them.

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