Now that my children attend a state primary, I naturally have more of a vested interest in the future of our education system than I did in that brief moment of idiocy when I allowed my wife to persuade me that I could afford to send them private. I haven’t read what either of the two Daves or Fatty Clarke have to say in their campaign manifestos on the subject, but, whatever it is, I’m quite sure it isn’t radical enough. (I’m rooting for my old Oxford mucker Dave Cameron all the way, incidentally: I had my initial doubts about his touchy-feely tendencies but I went to his launch and his performance blew me away. He’d rescue the country if only we’d let him.) It seems to me that now that parents have all but given up disciplining their offspring and now that children have lost all respect for authority, there is only one way that teachers are ever going to be able to do their job properly again: schools should be given the power of summary execution.
Obviously, it should be done fairly. The errant child should be granted two formal warnings before it gets the bullet/axe/lethal injection/electrodes/death-by-a-thousand-cuts/push into a tank of hungry piranhas. It should also have the right of appeal to the headmaster, who can decide whether it’s just a case of the teacher having it in for the child, or whether the child has seriously got it coming. After that, though, there should be no mercy. Last year, there were 140,000 suspensions in English schools. Imagine how much more smoothly those schools would be running today if instead of ‘being sent home for a few days before being allowed back to start ruining other children’s lives all over again’, suspension meant ‘hanging by the neck until you are dead’.