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Photocameronhull2007 David Cameron spent Monday and Tuesday working as a classroom assistant at a school in Hull. It did not get off to a good start:

"The day starts badly, for me at least. Helping register a class of 13 year olds, no-one – and I mean literally no one – has even heard of the Conservative Party. Using “hangman” on the smart new interactive whiteboard we get to “Conser_ati_e party” before any one gets it."

I know we have been in opposition for ten years but it is a bit worrying when a class of 13 year olds can’t name the Conservative party when "Conser_ati_e party" is written in front of them!

During his time at the school David helped with the English and history classes as well as supervising lunch and playground duty. He says his visit was to observe and learn rather than the usual “here’s a visiting politician” thing but unfortunately when you watch the videos (see below) it does look like the usual "visiting politician" thing: asking questions of the children and the teachers, being interviewed by students. Not the life of your everyday classroom assistant!

However the visit did impress on him the problems that teachers face when attempting to maintain order. He spoke to teachers and pupils who talked of the impact that behavioural problems in a small number of children can have on the whole school. Two of the teachers he spoke to favoured a zero tolerance approach to poor behaviour and bad language. He dismisses the current system which means that schools are fined if they exclude pupils and says:

"Change in our society – big, long term, substantial cultural change – is needed. And we should start by making every school head the absolute captain of their ship, able to maintain discipline and exclude poorly behaving pupils without being second-guessed or penalised for doing it."

When David Cameron so clearly recognises the urgency of combating growing behavioural problems in schools, something supported by the vast majority of teachers, parents and pupils it’s a shame our education policy seems dominated by opposition to grammar schools.

Andrew Burkinshaw

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