How can we tackle hate crime with four school systems?

Feb 28, 2017 by

There’s no such thing as ‘British values’ – Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland all teach different things

Tim Brighouse

Exactly what did Theresa May mean when she determined to “strengthen the union of the four countries of the United Kingdom” as one of the 12 essential requirements of a successful Brexit? Tempting though it is to assign her words to a banalities basket, along with “Brexit means Brexit”, perhaps it was more than that.

Could it have been a coded way of acknowledging there is a job to be done in healing the wounds of a nation so divided by the strong feelings of the leave-or-remain debate that it has led to a significant increase in crimes born of xenophobia and racism? To heal those is an urgent necessity to retain our claim to be civilised.

Most developed countries seek to do that, and to secure their economic wellbeing in an increasingly uncertain world, through their educational systems, especially their schools. They re-emphasise long-established and agreed educational purposes. But in the case of the UK, there are none.

This comes as a surprise to most people. The reality, however, is that Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and English schools march to different drumbeats – increasingly divergent after the establishment of the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Stormont in 1998. Even though their pupils emerge with the same right to call themselves citizens of the UK, they do so under very different dispensations.

Different exam and testing systems, different school inspection regimes, different rules for school admissions and widely divergent school curriculums mean almost nothing unites our future citizens’ schooling experience.

In England, there are academies and free schools and a sprinkling of university technical colleges (UTCs) and studio schools; in the other three countries, there are none. A key feature of English schools is the vital supervisory role of governing bodies; in Scotland there are no governors. Secondary schools in Wales and Scotland are almost entirely organised along comprehensive lines; in Northern Ireland there is a selective system dominated by the Catholic and Protestant churches and in England a hybrid arrangement depending in which part of the country you live.

Source: How can we tackle hate crime with four school systems? | Tim Brighouse | Education | The Guardian

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