Afzal Sayed Munna:
It is perfectly legal to choose the education medium and the choice of schooling by every parent. Every parent has the right to choose the schools, extra curriculum activities and also to follow a particular curriculum. Education editor Branwen Jeffreys from BBC also agreed with the Ofsted view on parent’s right where she mentioned that it is also perfectly legal to run a part-time tuition centre to offer additional teaching and support to children who are home educated. However, if a child attending regular schooling does we require them to put under extra tuition? The answer might vary from parent to parent and especially with the parents with traditional mentality (mostly from Asia and Africa). BBC report also revealed that part-time education centre teaches children for fewer than 20 hours a week there are remarkably few obligations.
Accordingly to Ofsted a tuition centre or alternative education provider have to register with the authorities or be open to inspection, unlike a private fee-paying school. This has created a grey area of the law, which Ofsted argues is being exploited by people who are running unregistered premises, some of which are quietly opening for as many hours as a school. Some of what the Ofsted inspectors has found provides a strong case for intervention. In some places they are reporting poor physical conditions.
It has become a culture among the parents to put their young child’s under extra tuition to step forward the competition race. It also becomes a social status to put your child into a grammar school and alternatively if your child does not get a place it becomes a shame to the society. Thus every parent’s are forced to put their children’s under extra tuition which alternatively opens the opportunity for some business minded people to open and run private tuition centre and rip-off parents. We continuously consider a bright future of our children’s mostly ignoring mental health issues and the adverse future consequences.
National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and Institute of Education, UCL jointly published a report on Mental ill-health among children of the new century stated that, 1 in 4 girls aged 14 is suffering from symptoms of depression, that is 166,000 girls in the United Kingdom. This new research is extremely robust, and is based on information from a representative group of more than 10,000 children who are taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study. It provides the strongest evidence yet that a huge number of young people are depressed. The investigation also revealed the prime cause that is fuelling this rise in depression which is nothing but children today are facing huge pressures, especially as they reach adolescence: from anxiety about passing exams and about getting a job, to worries about body image, fuelled by a hyper-sexualised media environment.
We often forgot the social and emotional reasoning, which is leading our children’s on depression, anxiety and sometime committing suicide as a last resort to become free. Interestingly someone is making money out of it, I mean the tuition centres. As the authority does not regulate them they are running their business the way they like. For instance, they omit the Ofsted registration not by declaring appropriate hours of tuition. Also many (almost all) tuition centres collect their fees cash-in-hand which allows them to dodge the tax and VAT to the HM revenue and customs.
We need to understand and identify all these grey areas and come to a conclusion how to stop this education austerity. We need to prepare children at home and at school to cope with the challenges of today’s childhood. A “whole school approach” to wellbeing can be a permanent solution. Parent’s needed to understand the pressure and need to stop running on the competition race. The government should think banning the tuition centre, which is fuelling the pressure among the parents and children’s. I am happy that Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party has realised the mental health issue and declared that, if his party form the government he would abolish the SAT exam, which was also agreed and proposed by Layla Moran MP and Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education.
We should help create a positive learning environment, where pupils’ emotional needs are nurtured alongside their academic development. New guidance on PSHE (Personal Social and Health Education) must support teachers and parents to communicate effectively with children, so they can share their feelings, build confidence and make good choices of life rather competition.
Afzal Sayed Munna
Executive Member, Liberal Democrats and Liberal Democrats Campaign for Race Equality and Independent School Representative, National Education Union. firstname.lastname@example.org