This, dear reader, yes all 8 of you, may be worth a listen, especially as both  Adrian Voce and Bob Hughes are on  it:

 “Feral Kids and Feckless Parents”

the first in a series on Broken Childhood featuring an expert-led discussion on the contemporary issues, such as knife-crime and gun-crime and crime-crime and other feckless issues facing parents in our contemporary society

RADIO 4 today, Wednesday, at 8pm.

Do have a listen then we can discuss it online. Such fun!

I speak like this because the increasingly London-centric posh media types at the Beeb, seem to think everyone lives like this, cue vicious parody:

just after you have had a simple family supper of jugged hare in an aubergine and Marsala jus, and just before the ‘man of the house’ has to ‘pop’ upstairs to read Jemima and Jasper their organically-grown, fairly-traded recycled children’s story by Kate Winslet, entitled “ The day that Satsuma forgot about global warming”, you can huddle round the Pure DAB set and listen to (or record for later – such fun) this lovely programme:


From the actual BBC:

“Programme 1: Feral Kids and Feckless Parents

”The August riots in parts of England showed youngsters out of control on the streets, and put huge focus onto parenting skills.

“MPs and council leaders warned parents that they should know where their children were at night and keep them indoors and out of trouble.

”But parents themselves were saying they were unable to discipline their kids, either because they feared repercussions by the authorities, or because their children were simply physically too strong.

“In the first of the new series of “Bringing Up Britain”, Mariella Frostrup is joined by a panel of experts to discuss parental discipline right across British society.”

{uncontrollable interjection: RIGHT across? As in all classes? Somehow I doubt it}

”How easy is it for us to control our children, especially after they stop being biddable toddlers and begin to assert their own personalities?

“Have we given children too many rights and ignored those of parents?

”Can you really stop a large teenage child going out, and what restraining measures can you legally use?

“And, if your child is going off the rails, how do you break the cycle and get them back into good habits?”


Back to the totally made-up vicious parody:

Joining a woman in early middle-age who has a sexy voice because she is foreign, are 4 people who are already known to BBC researchers (who these days are all unpaid interns called Rebecca or Piers), because their names are already in the producer’s filofax (remember them). Joining poshtotty to explore these issues will be:

• Adrian Voce, OBE, freelance policy consultant and ex-Director of PlayEngland,

• Bob Hughes of PlayEducation, the UK’s leading thinker on children’s play and playwork

• some bloke who used to be a teacher who went to school with George Osborne

• the wife of George Osborne (is he married? I thought he was gay, must check) who has set up a charity for badgers distressed by quad bikes

•an ethnic minority person who was booked by mistake but the BBC has an equalities policy so they aren’t being told because it might upset them and they might call us racist

• Professor Martina Rousseau-Clarkson, the  founding director of the Luton University Centre  for the Study of the Causes of Research into the Parenting Strategies deployed in early adolescence by Developmentally Challenged Agricultural Workers in South America and Children

• Peter Rabid, the foreign policy editor of the Economist and best-selling author of ‘Shoot The Bloody Lotl!’

Only joking all of those people are made-up. The two that are real people are the ones least likely to be actually, and disappointingly, on the programme. Follow the link to find out who the real panel is. Gosh, with luminaries like that, we’re assured of a jolly debate. I’m going to be glued to my set: if you miss it, and if I hear anything sensible or interesting or hopeful, and if I write it down, you might see it on here, later.

FIGHT RACISM! Dress witches in pink, avoid white paper!

Dress witches in pink and avoid white paper to prevent racism in nuseries, expert says – Telegraph.

“Dress witches in pink and avoid white paper to prevent racism in nuseries, expert says

Teachers should censor the toy box to replace witches’ black hats with a pink ones and dress fairies in darker shades, according to a consultant who has issued advice to local authorities.”

Ooh, this one got them going!

Good advice to avoid white paper though: just wish local authorities and Michael Gove avoid white paper also.

Let’s just contextualise this: Nursery World magazine HAVE issued a guide on equality and diversity, free (as in falls out of when you open it) with the magazine. It IS written by this Anne O’Connor. The writer may well have advised local authorities. I’m sure the ‘guide’ does contain all sorts of advice like that pilloried by the Torygrapher. This advice is a magazine pull-out, not advice to local authorities, and not official government or local government advice, just a freebie in a magazine.

And, and, what happens to ‘pull-outs’ or ‘fall’outs’? Straight in the recycling, maybe via the gerbil cage floor.

Great ‘rantortunity’ though. Keep ’em coming.

BTW, the nursery world coterie is a perfect example of a SRSS (self-referential social system). for more details – ask me or read my book: ‘Navigating Complexity: the essential guide to complexity theory in business and management’. you can pay a lot second hand or wait for the soon-come reprint.


Who da racist? Teachers or lefties? You decide, I already have…

“In the 1970s and 1980s, Britain was a pretty racist place. Black children were constantly held back in the school system, the police stopped young black men for no reason and white gangs would terrorise black families. While Britain has come a long way from those days, racism is still alive and kicking/“

”…/black children are undermined by the British school system because we expect too little of them.”

“… / The racism that does exist is that black children are treated differently to white ones. Incidentally, this doesn’t just happen to black kids. It also happens to the white working class or to anyone with some silly label, like anger management problems or ADHD. And it isn’t the ordinary teacher who is at fault. It is the senior management teams who refuse to ensure that the school rules should apply equally and fairly to all.”

“…/ The boy was sent home for having an inappropriate haircut. The issue isn’t whether you, the reader, find this haircut appropriate or not. You may very well think the haircut is just fine. And when you run your own school, you will ensure that your school rules permit such haircuts. But at the West London Free School, haircuts that are below a grade 3 are not allowed. And frankly, as a parent, if you disagree with this rule, then you need to choose another school for your child. This boy’s mother chose the WLFS for her child, knowing full well what the rules were, and then had the audacity to go back on the agreement she made with the school when her child first started there in September. As the head of WLFS said, he looks forward to the day when a head simply implementing the school’s rules is not cause for a national press story.”

I hold no brief for Toby Young (does this mean what I think it does? That I’m not a chum or a fan of?) . Pampered self-indulgent posh boy. But look at the head – actually standing up and enforcing a rule! Only 2 things to do with a rule:

1. enforce it

2. change it if it aint working until it is.

And the parental outcry! Narcissistic entitlement by proxy, that’s what it is – I said it first here. ‘Narcissistic entitlement by proxy’ – my baby is entitled to the best. Wrong. W R O N G.

She excellently expresses the very real but usually hidden colludusion of middle-class professionals which creates an effectively racist response to idiotic external targets. This is an andnotbut thing: this happens from a combination of at least two things, both of which are needed in order to fail children:

a. the system needs enforced inappropriate targets AND
b. the collusion of teachers

(teachers here being a proxy for the SRSS that is edjerkayshun. SRSS = self referential social system)

Kudos to her for saying any stupidly-labelled kids, like ADHD or white boys, not just ethnic minority children.

For me, the idea that the discrimination is against the non-normal, the ‘stupidly-labelled’, is the crucial insight.

And I hope she makes the necessary link between these ‘racist-in-effect’ teachers and the crappy target culture which fertilises and nurtures the ticky-boxing mentality which engenders it, soon…

Footnote: one of the baying mob of twitopundits on the torygraph had this to say:

“Katrina_Angell 10/25/2011 09:04 AM.
I went back and read the news report on this story. As usual, Katharine hasn’t given an entirely full account. The boy’s mother is quoted as saying she’s very happy with the school, she thinks it’s excellent. So she’s clearly not some disaffected parent taking a pop at the school. She’s also quoted as saying that she keeps her son’s hair very short because if it’s allowed to grow it gets very messy and gets dirt stuck in it as (according to her) is prone to happen with African Caribbean hair. So the haircut isn’t about some act of “individuality” or rebellion (as with some outlandish haircuts we’ve seen stories about) but an attempt to keep her son looking neat and tidy.”

To which I say:
1. People say things to the press to make themselves sound reasonable, not necessarily what they actually said at the time. Shocking, I know.
2. the hair thing? maybe as KA says ‘according to her’, indicating her own degree of doubt about the statements.  And, if it’s true, the line ‘and proof of a recognised medical issue “ could easily be added to notes accompanying the school rule*. It doesn’t really change the principle – and how did the media get onto it? I bet: a. mum told them and b. bet she didn’t raise the ‘hair issue’ with the head before.

But mainly I say: I reckon Birbalsigh is spot-on in her analysis, which I see, overwhelmingly, as a critique of managerialism, and whether this kid’s hair is whatever the mum say’s or not, she is still spot-on** on the issues.


*notes on school rules: I’m a big fan of explanatory notes on rules. With examples. If the rule deserves to be made, it deserves to be explained, with examples. After all the stupid are more likely to break it if they don’t get it…

** Yes, I overused spot-on.