LETTERS From Elaine Fisher, Chale:
COULD the headteacher mentioned in Charlotte Hofton’s article (Weekender, 27-09-13) who is so obsessed with school uniform please explain the success of schools in Finland?
Visit, as I have done, a school in Finland, and you will find polite, attentive pupils who take pride in their work and their school.
Could it be more to do with the facts that education and teachers are valued much more highly than in the UK?
The school I visited was in a relatively poor area of Helsinki but despite the poverty I, and a Portuguese colleague noted the absence of litter and the ubiquitous rusting cars propped up on bricks with which we were both familiar.
Did this perhaps reflect a pride in the environment and a greater self-worth than is found in class-ridden Britain?
Formal education as in many other countries does not begin until the age of seven and the early years are spent in kindergarten.
Primary school in Finland is from age seven to 13. (Does this sound familiar?) Within the school’s catchment area were immigrants from Russia, and Somalia.
Specialist language classes were provided for these pupils to ensure that they could cope once they entered the mainstream classes.
Children with learning difficulties were also taught by a specialist teacher alongside the mainstream pupils.
Specialist IT and English lessons were an established part of the curriculum and the majority of pupils I spoke to were capable of holding a reasonable conversation, more than I could have done in Finnish. Every pupil was provided with a free meal. No class was larger than 30.
No doubt uniforms create a sense of belonging, but they are, as the redoubtable Ms Hofton said, resented and are often 'adapted’.
Success in education requires far more than surface dressing.