Educational policy makers love abstract concepts, especially if they’re alliterative , like ‘community cohesion’. Schools have been given a key role by the Government and OFSTED, we’re told, in ‘community cohesion’, yet another spurious concept and role to distract schools from the business of ‘learning’.
Any real community facet to a school is accidental. Kids are forced by law to go there, parents meet each other when they deliver and pick up their offspring at the start and end of the day (but at the schools gates-never going inside). In reality, schools are the very opposite of communal and could be described as divisive.
7 divisive behaviours
- An apartheid runs through the UK system of private/public schools divides sharply along class and socioeconomic lines, separating rich from poor.
- Another apartheid split is along academic/vocational lines, with Diplomas being branded as 2nd class A-levels.
- Faith schools divide communities along religious lines, whether it be Catholic, Church of England, Islam or Judaism. They isolate and separate rather than encourage community spirit.
- Schools shut up shop for five major periods per year, so they are completely inert in the community for much of the year.
- Even when open they are largely closed institutions, with little in the way of shared facilities or access by the community.
- Students have little opportunity to really engage with the community, as schools are places of incarceration. Community work is not a formal part of the curriculum.
- Schools largely exclude parents from the process of education, keeping them at a distance with ten minutes or so every year.
Community mistaken for disunity
In practice ‘community cohesion’ means yet more over-written, vague policy documents. Of course, what they actually mean by community is the same old diversity agenda. The gathering of endless stats on racism, homophobic behaviour and so on. Community is being mistaken for disunity. Remember that over 60% of the parents and people in the community see school as the place they failed. Look to pubs, clubs, cafes, parks and other places for community, not schools.