Monday, 16 April 2012

Police Academy 8....

There's always something the night before a new school term, usually it's finding a two-week old, unwashed PE kit making it's own way across the landing to the washbasket in a futile attempt to escape it's own stench, but not this time.

This time I was as organised as I'm capable of being. The uniforms were washed, there was just enough bread to cobble together lunchboxes, a pen and a piece of paper were at hand to write the "Please excuse Name-of-Child from PE because his/her kit is still sobbing in the bathroom" letter.

So organised in fact that I even managed to trawl through some of the accumulated paperwork brought home from school which usually gets thrown in a heap waiting for attention and totally fails to get it. In that pile I found a letter from the TeenTwins' Academy announcing the employment of a police officer at the start of the new term.

Not what I was imagining, oh no not me

Once I'd scrapped my jaw back up off the floor and done a impressive impression of Victor Meldrew at his most flabbergasted, I read the letter again.

"Following our recent Ofsted inspection," it read, "We communicated to you that we would not be complacent and continue to work to ensure that your child receives the best possible educational experience .... With this in mind, we intend to build upon our Ofsted judgement of Outstanding for behaviour and safety by employing a Safer Schools Partnership (Police) Officer (SSP) from the first day back after half term.

The post of a SSP has become standard practice in our other academies, and having seen the benefits that this post brings to the students and the community, I am delighted we have secured this post..." 

And there was a link to a government guide explaining the role of the Safer Schools Partnership. It's 41 pages long, has lots of pictures of beaming students and cheerful police officers all joshing together and some case studies. Heartwarming stuff.

Now, I have no problems with policemen establishing a relationship with a school and their pupils. We had a policeman who visited school when I was a girl (many moons ago) called PC Brian Coe, he did cycling proficiency tests and talked about "serious" things occasionally in assembly. I'm not sure he was called in to unmask the culprit in The Great Squashing of the Long Haired Peruvian Guinea Pig Incident but words were surely had when the perpetrator was unveiled.

PC Coe was the epitome of a community policeman; he lived in the town, his son was at school with us and when he retired he became a stalwart of the local Civic and Historical Societies. For me, he made policemen less scary and more human.

Hopefully the PC stationed at the Academy, in his purposely designed "base," will achieve the same result at the Academy but somehow I don't feel he's going to be running The Tufty Club. And maybe that's because this particular school letter concluded with:

"Lastly, I would like to draw your attention to an increasing problem which we have - students buying sweets and fizzy drinks in bulk from local shops, bringing them into the Academy and selling them during break times. The Academy does not tolerate students doing this for obvious reasons: healthy eating, litter, student medical dietary needs etc, and any student caught selling any item will have this confiscated and be excluded for a fixed period of time, Please assist us in upholding this rule by talking to your son/daughter about not selling or buying items from students,"

(Though, due to scurrilous, unfounded and probably thoroughly unreliable gossip from TeenTwin2 I am led to understand that the "contraband goods" are mostly bought from CostCo, and the teachers are as guilty at using this blackmarket as the pupils *raises eyebrows* and if nothing else, it exhibits a certain entrepreneurial spirit among pupils that is, frankly, quite encouraging in this current economic climate).

Anyway I don't feel entirely comfortable with the whole thing to be honest. I have no problem with policemen. I have no problem with policemen in schools. But I have a bit of a WTF moment over a policeman being employed in the school ALL THE TIME. And I have quite a large problem with a "We're getting your kids a policeman and he'll arrest anyone caught selling a doughnut in the playground" message I got from the Academy's letter.

Or perhaps that's just me......
TeenTwin2 arrived home to announce that the policeman had been stood at the school gates with the usual uniform-checking teachers as the students arrived:
"He was in proper uniform and everything," she said, "And he was well lush"


1 comment :

  1. It could be worse. One school I work in has policemen patrolling the dining halls at lunchtimes. (Though that school is considerably worse than Outwood). In most schools a police presence is mainly there to address behaviour from the worst kids, talk to parents, deal with truancy etc. it's horrible that they're there, but it probably saying a lot about the school that they haven't had to jump on the band wagon before now.


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