Schools strive for pupils' happiness

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Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:01 pm

From David Cameron to Unicef, most agree children's wellbeing should be a priority. Why has it been cast into Ofsted's dustbin, and regarded as 'ghastly' and 'peripheral' by education ministers?


At Gooderstone primary school, children’s wellbeing is ‘central to everything that happens’. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

If David Cameron is still keen on spreading happiness – one of his big ideas – he could take some tips from a village school in Norfolk. He could, for example, inspire a gloomy House of Commons with a poster outlining "five simple steps to a happier parliament" that would encourage MPs to be kind, polite, sensible, safe and tidy.

The prime minister could then establish good relationships with MPs' parents and carers, make sure that he treats them all equally and fairly, and that they all feel loved and valued – even the naughty ones.

Doing this might give Westminster a chance of reaching levels of wellbeing as impressive as those at Gooderstone primary.

But Cameron should note that nothing can be achieved without MPs' agreement. "Everyone has a voice," says Gooderstone's headteacher, David Baldwin, "and it's important that they know they will be listened to." He recently asked pupils what they thought of assembly and discovered that while one girl appreciated the chance to "talk to God", everyone wanted to be the one to blow out the assembly candle.

When the prime minister set up the National Wellbeing Project in 2010, he said that finding out what improved lives was a serious business for government. Baldwin, who now keeps an eye on who gets to extinguish the assembly candle, says it's a serious business for schools, too.

Children's wellbeing is "central to everything that happens" at the 65-pupil school. Even in the runup to Blue Monday yesterday – reportedly the most miserable day of the year – Gooderstone primary fairly hummed with good humour and positive activity. It's essential, says Baldwin, as "children won't access the curriculum, however brilliant, unless they're happy – happy to engage and happy to make mistakes". Many parents would recognise the truth in this, too.

Cameron's commitment to wellbeing is shared by, among others, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund. But what about his own Department for Education? While the Office for National Statistics is busy compiling the country's first wellbeing tables, the DfE has written it out of the new inspection framework.

Two months ago, Ofsted inspectors praised Gooderstone's excellent "care, support and guidance" and its pupils' outstanding personal and social development. They complimented their knowledge of how to stay healthy and safe, their outstanding contribution to the community – and their exceptionally high attainment.

If inspectors visited Gooderstone this month, their mission would be rather different. The new framework requires them to check on behaviour and safety, but not how a school cares for its pupils. It does not refer to health or emotions. It mentions relationships only as potential hazards and friends only as "critical" ones. Gone is the need to make sure that pupils have a "strong voice in decisions relating to their learning and wellbeing". Indeed, the word "wellbeing", which ran like a river through the previous Ofsted framework, has disappeared.

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has said the new framework will allow inspectors to concentrate on what matters and forget the "peripherals". Thus, wellbeing has been cast into Ofsted's dustbin at a time of soaring youth unemployment, when teenagers routinely hear themselves described as a "lost generation".

Yet many in education believe that wellbeing is not peripheral. For headteachers like Baldwin, it is the foundation on which to build academic excellence and the exemplary behaviour so prized by Gove.

Debbie Watson, whose book Children's Social and Emotional Wellbeing in Schools is published tomorrow, says there has been a policy void with regard to wellbeing in education since the coalition came to power. "There's a chasm between Cameron and Gove," she says, "and it's only going to get wider."

Watson, who is director of childhood studies at Bristol University, argues that wellbeing is a "poorly understood, rather nebulous concept". It should, she says, start with individual children, celebrating and respecting their rights and needs. "It's subjective and individual, and not about universal standards and norms."

Watson says that two key initiatives introduced by Labour and still in use – Every Child Matters and the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (Seal) programmes – have flaws because they are "top-down rather than roots-up". Nevertheless, "the concept of wellbeing must not be allowed to disappear".

That wellbeing is at risk of disappearing is surprising, given that it won the backing of two recent major reassessments of primary education: the independent Cambridge Primary Review and the Rose Review of the curriculum.

And wellbeing is not just for primary schools, says Ruth Harker, principal of Shenley academy in south Birmingham. Shenley, which opened in 2009, is one of very few secondaries to have an Every Child Matters award, and describes its students as "happy, safe, supported and inspired to achieve" – in that order. It is also one of England's fastest-improving schools, with inspectors praising students' outstanding personal and academic progress.

"It is absolutely common sense that wellbeing and achievement are linked," says Harker, "and it is regrettable that Ofsted's new framework does not make this more explicit, especially as young people's wellbeing is such an issue for the country."

It became an issue for Shenley following the 2007 Unicef report that relegated the UK to last position in terms of young people's wellbeing. Harker and her colleagues, whose new school was in an area of high unemployment, decided to act. "Some Unicef findings were very stark and upsetting. We resolved to help students develop positive attitudes to learning, to education and to each other."

Both Shenley and Gooderstone promote wellbeing through the way they are organised. As a small school, it is easy for Gooderstone's staff to get to know their pupils, allowing them to pick up instantly when something is wrong. Shenley strives for a similar intimacy with its five mini colleges and mixed-age tutor groups of only 15 students.

Both schools also make their pursuit of wellbeing explicit. Extra time is devoted at Shenley to a bespoke Learning for Life programme. Gooderstone's work is loosely based on themed Values for Life assemblies as well as the Seal programme, introduced to primary schools in 2003.

Before Seal, there was resistance to the idea that schools should help children to develop social and emotional skills, says Neil Humphrey, professor of psychology of education at Manchester University.

By contrast, says Humphrey, social and emotional learning (SEL) in the US has a much better track record. A meta-analysis by Chicago academics of 213 SEL programmes last year found that pupils' social and emotional skills, attitudes and behaviour significantly improved – and there was an 11 percentage-point gain in achievement.

This achievement spin-off would surely appeal to any education minister – even Nick Gibb, who has dismissed social and emotional learning as "ghastly" and likely to distract from "the core subjects of academic education".

Sadly, Seal, despite being widely used, has not achieved anything approaching these results. Humphrey, who evaluated the programme for the government, says it has had a mixed impact in primaries and zero impact in secondaries. The DfE has now cautioned schools against investing time or money in Seal, leaving its future uncertain.

Yet, says Humphrey, there are reasons why Seal has struggled to make a difference in secondary schools. Its structure was made flexible to give schools a sense of ownership, but, without a rigid framework, "schools were excited, but floundering. They didn't know where to start. They'd been given a destination but not the route".

Evidence from the US, says Humphrey, where they've been working on SEL for 30 years, shows that approaches need to be structured, focused and delivered consistently to make an impact.

And some secondaries are succeeding. Humphrey has visited schools such as Shenley that are filled with good practice and innovative work. "They are good schools with a caring and warm climate where pupils feel wanted, valued and part of a community. School should be a place where they want to be," he says.

Humphrey worries about the way the political pendulum is swinging. "We've got a lot of whip-cracking about standards, a lot of stress on the three Rs. But government needs to get the right balance between the academic, the social and the psychological aspects of education. Kids don't just need their five A*s at GCSE, they need to be able to get on with other people."

• Stephanie Northen was one of the authors of the Cambridge Primary Review, but writes here in her capacity as a freelance journalist

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jan/16/children-wellbeing-schools-ofsted

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:20 pm

Children go to school primarily to be educated in academic subjects. Provided the standards of education are to a high enough level, I see nothing wrong with including social studies as well. However happiness cannot be taught, it comes from the child's home environment and upbringing within a loving family and a sense of achievement when they are successful in what they do.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:26 pm

fred bloggs wrote:Children go to school primarily to be educated in academic subjects. Provided the standards of education are to a high enough level, I see nothing wrong with including social studies as well. However happiness cannot be taught, it comes from the child's home environment and upbringing within a loving family and a sense of achievement when they are successful in what they do.

What about those children that don't come from loving families? What about those children who feel they cant succeed at anything?
What about those children that have a poor or worse home environment?

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by victorismyhero on Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:25 pm

Nems Again wrote:

What about those children that don't come from loving families? What about those children who feel they cant succeed at anything?
What about those children that have a poor or worse home environment?

Now there's the rub nems....children should go to school in the reasonable expectation of gaining an ACADEMIC education, as fred points out, PRIOVIDED, and ONLY provided this is of a sufficiently high standard then perhaps "social studies" may be included. your question above is, as far as I can see, whilst not irrelevant, somewhat more marginal...academc studies SHOULD not give way to social studies etc. This surely is the LW way....downwards to a level of common mediocrity. I.E restrict academic tuition for those able...in favour of social study for those not so able (for whatever reason)

The solution is of course, that anathema to the LW ...of steaming by ability, and let the lower streams do the social study whilst the able upper streams can get on with academia...OH and having a robust sense of reality helps...toughen up the exam system, and lets realise that some are going to FAIL......
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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:49 pm

victorismyhero wrote:

Now there's the rub nems....children should go to school in the reasonable expectation of gaining an ACADEMIC education, as fred points out, PRIOVIDED, and ONLY provided this is of a sufficiently high standard then perhaps "social studies" may be included. your question above is, as far as I can see, whilst not irrelevant, somewhat more marginal...academc studies SHOULD not give way to social studies etc. This surely is the LW way....downwards to a level of common mediocrity. I.E restrict academic tuition for those able...in favour of social study for those not so able (for whatever reason)

The solution is of course, that anathema to the LW ...of steaming by ability, and let the lower streams do the social study whilst the able upper streams can get on with academia...OH and having a robust sense of reality helps...toughen up the exam system, and lets realise that some are going to FAIL......

Of course schools should provide academic education and children should turn up at school ready to receive it but many do not. That was the point of my questions, what do we do with these children? Many of them are not going to be able to achieve academic success when many of them can t read or write, hold a knife and fork or wipe their own backsides. Why shouldn't the children's well being be important? A childs happiness and their well being is not measured by academic success and this article is addressing not academic attainment but whether children feel supported and able to learn at school. This is not social studies for those not clever enough for Physics its the basis for every child matters.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:46 pm

victorismyhero wrote:

Now there's the rub nems....children should go to school in the reasonable expectation of gaining an ACADEMIC education, as fred points out, PRIOVIDED, and ONLY provided this is of a sufficiently high standard then perhaps "social studies" may be included. your question above is, as far as I can see, whilst not irrelevant, somewhat more marginal...academc studies SHOULD not give way to social studies etc. This surely is the LW way....downwards to a level of common mediocrity. I.E restrict academic tuition for those able...in favour of social study for those not so able (for whatever reason)

The solution is of course, that anathema to the LW ...of steaming by ability, and let the lower streams do the social study whilst the able upper streams can get on with academia...OH and having a robust sense of reality helps...toughen up the exam system, and lets realise that some are going to FAIL......

Whoa Victor, this has nothing to do with social studies. An unhappy child cannot learn, simple as that. If a child has a crap home life and the school gives them no support, they can't learn. If a child is being bullied at school, they can't learn. If a child has no self worth, does not believe they can do anything, they can't learn. If a child is not eating properly, they can't learn. This is to make sure the child's well being is being helped. If it is done properly, it means that concentration levels should rise, they should feel they are capable of learning, and academic standards will rise. This has nothing to do with streaming or social studies, it is to make sure that the child is emotionally nutured so that they can learn more.

Give you a good example. When my daughter died, my grandaughter was hardly sleeping, her concentration levels dropped to nothing, but because of the support she got from us, but from her college as well, she got through it and passed her exams. Without that help from the college she would have been adrift, and would never have got that pass.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by victorismyhero on Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:15 pm

Yes sassy, but this support should be given "extra curricular" not woven into some sort of "lesson" which the whole class participates, which i think is what the article above is implying....
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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:20 pm

victorismyhero wrote:Yes sassy, but this support should be given "extra curricular" not woven into some sort of "lesson" which the whole class participates, which i think is what the article above is implying....

Yes I know, but it is not social studies, it is teaching them about what they are capable of and helping them overcome difficulties, which is why the school is gaining higher academic achievements, it is giving them the foundation to learn and has made a huge difference to their results. Surely that can't be a bad thing. To me it is like learning to write so you can put down your answers for other subjects.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by victorismyhero on Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:32 pm

sassy1261 wrote:

Yes I know, but it is not social studies, it is teaching them about what they are capable of and helping them overcome difficulties, which is why the school is gaining higher academic achievements, it is giving them the foundation to learn and has made a huge difference to their results. Surely that can't be a bad thing. To me it is like learning to write so you can put down your answers for other subjects.

Yup it is a good thing...PROVIDED as I say, its not done at the expense of time spent on academic subjects for pupils without these problems.....
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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:37 pm

victorismyhero wrote:

Yup it is a good thing...PROVIDED as I say, its not done at the expense of time spent on academic subjects for pupils without these problems.....

Victor, all children have these problems, they might get on with their parents, they might get on with their peers, but every child has doubts and difficulties.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by victorismyhero on Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:54 pm

sassy1261 wrote:

Victor, all children have these problems, they might get on with their parents, they might get on with their peers, but every child has doubts and difficulties.

so we sacrifice academic studies for these "councelling" sessions???? sorry sassy..WE managed...and got far far better academic results than today....I left school knowing far more and in far greater depth than the kids do today....and thats got nothing to do with new knowledge either......I dont wish to appear the hard hearted RW'er, but its about time MOST (though i agree not all) kids were told buckle up and get on with it..toughen up. our young folks are becoming wussies beyond beleife..running for councelling (which of course keeps lots of councellors in work) but results in kids incapable of dealing with lifes sh*t and increases dependancy on the state. It is significant that social problems and so called Psychological disorders are affecting (so they claim) more and more ...despite all this pussyfied nonsense... there was NOT this level of dysfunction in our generation...because they had to"get on with it"...........It is only since the LW liberalists got a hook into education that these things began to increase..... like I said the LW nose dive to the lowest common denominator...

A good point which demonstrates what i mean by the LW liberalist rot is the acceptance of various "dysfunctions" and that these should be allowed to disrupt everyone else...these days thousands of women are rendered virtually non functional every month because of PMS.....WHY...because its tolerated and "fashionable"...In our parents day, the woman would have had a good slap...or at best no sympathy...and be expected to "get on with it"....the old man still wanted his dinner...on time...the kids still needed to be sorted...etc etc etc.....NOW I'M NOT SAYING THAT getting a slap or nil sympathy is necessarily right, but the point is that for 90% of those women....thats exactly what they did...and coped......nowadays its perfectly alright to be an absolute screaming bitch, make everyone around you's life a misery, and even abuse you partner.......as long as you can say in a suitably girly voice..."OH its my PMS" whine whinge wail.....


ps...whats the difference between PMS and mad cow disease




one is an agricultural problem
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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:04 pm

victorismyhero wrote:

so we sacrifice academic studies for these "councelling" sessions???? sorry sassy..WE managed...and got far far better academic results than today....I left school knowing far more and in far greater depth than the kids do today....and thats got nothing to do with new knowledge either......I dont wish to appear the hard hearted RW'er, but its about time MOST (though i agree not all) kids were told buckle up and get on with it..toughen up. our young folks are becoming wussies beyond beleife..running for councelling (which of course keeps lots of councellors in work) but results in kids incapable of dealing with lifes sh*t and increases dependancy on the state. It is significant that social problems and so called Psychological disorders are affecting (so they claim) more and more ...despite all this pussyfied nonsense... there was NOT this level of dysfunction in our generation...because they had to"get on with it"...........It is only since the LW liberalists got a hook into education that these things began to increase..... like I said the LW nose dive to the lowest common denominator...

A good point which demonstrates what i mean by the LW liberalist rot is the acceptance of various "dysfunctions" and that these should be allowed to disrupt everyone else...these days thousands of women are rendered virtually non functional every month because of PMS.....WHY...because its tolerated and "fashionable"...In our parents day, the woman would have had a good slap...or at best no sympathy...and be expected to "get on with it"....the old man still wanted his dinner...on time...the kids still needed to be sorted...etc etc etc.....NOW I'M NOT SAYING THAT getting a slap or nil sympathy is necessarily right, but the point is that for 90% of those women....thats exactly what they did...and coped......nowadays its perfectly alright to be an absolute screaming bitch, make everyone around you's life a misery, and even abuse you partner.......as long as you can say in a suitably girly voice..."OH its my PMS" whine whinge wail.....


ps...whats the difference between PMS and mad cow disease




one is an agricultural problem

Now I have got to disagree. My grandmother had the most awful PMT and no way did my Grandad expect her to 'get on with it' and if he had tried to 'give her a slap' he would have got one back, doubled, but it would not have occurred to him. Hmm, one is an agricultral problem and one is a physical problem suffered by women that makes their lives and the lives of all around them a total misery! And women didn't cope, they suffered.

Coming back to the school, it says they their attainment is better, so the academia has not suffered in any way.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by victorismyhero on Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:27 pm

depends where it was to start with.... Twisted Evil

ok i agree...they suffered....they didnt ...generally...inflict it on everyone else.....
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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:58 pm

victorismyhero wrote:depends where it was to start with.... Twisted Evil

ok i agree...they suffered....they didnt ...generally...inflict it on everyone else.....

Oh Victor, I bet they did!

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:17 am

Thought academic results were going up?

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:39 am

Nems Again wrote:Thought academic results were going up?

They are, thats the point I was trying very hard to make Nems, that because of this grounding, results were rising!

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:47 am

sassy1261 wrote:

They are, thats the point I was trying very hard to make Nems, that because of this grounding, results were rising!

Exactly its all very well saying schools should only teach academic subjects but children need so much more than just academic learning and if they are are not getting it why should the child be penalised?

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:36 pm

Nems Again wrote:

What about those children that don't come from loving families? What about those children who feel they cant succeed at anything?
What about those children that have a poor or worse home environment?

I am not sure but I'm going to have a stab at this one.

More money, yes that's bound to work.

Give more money to these parents so they are happier which will make them better parents. Isn't that what we do here in the UK?

Where shall we get the money? Hmmmm. I KNOW. Let's get more tax money off working families doing a good job with raising happy and well-adjusted kids.

Nobody will feel resentful about that, surely not?

See, problem solved.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:58 pm

Seren wrote:

I am not sure but I'm going to have a stab at this one.

More money, yes that's bound to work.

Give more money to these parents so they are happier which will make them better parents. Isn't that what we do here in the UK?

Where shall we get the money? Hmmmm. I KNOW. Let's get more tax money off working families doing a good job with raising happy and well-adjusted kids.

Nobody will feel resentful about that, surely not?

See, problem solved.

Seren, money is not involved in this. If you read the OP, money is not involved, just effort, and helping children to emotional maturity, and it is getting good academic results, because the children can concentrate more.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:38 pm

sassy1261 wrote:

Seren, money is not involved in this. If you read the OP, money is not involved, just effort, and helping children to emotional maturity, and it is getting good academic results, because the children can concentrate more.

£2million to set up national Wellbeing plus the salaries of the extra teachers involved.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:02 pm

Seren wrote:

I am not sure but I'm going to have a stab at this one.

More money, yes that's bound to work.

Give more money to these parents so they are happier which will make them better parents. Isn't that what we do here in the UK?

Where shall we get the money? Hmmmm. I KNOW. Let's get more tax money off working families doing a good job with raising happy and well-adjusted kids.

Nobody will feel resentful about that, surely not?

See, problem solved.

The alternative being?

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:53 am

The loony left are obviously struggling with the concept of Parental Responsibility. If some parents are too shiftless and idle to care about their kids, why should kids from proper homes have to see their education suffer?. - It's the parent's responsibility to nurture their kids, NOT the education system's.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:00 pm

Oh well, thats ok then Fred, lets just chuck all the kids who don't have parental responsibility on the dust heap, so instead of them becoming decent members of society with qualifications they go on to be wastrels and cost us a fortune, not be mention all the other people they will destroy along the way. That sounds good.

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:30 pm

fred bloggs wrote:The loony left are obviously struggling with the concept of Parental Responsibility. If some parents are too shiftless and idle to care about their kids, why should kids from proper homes have to see their education suffer?. - It's the parent's responsibility to nurture their kids, NOT the education system's.

Know what Fred you are entirely right it is the parents responsibility to raise an achieving well rounded community member who excels at school and is an all round good egg.
What do we do with those children who's parents cant?

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Re: Schools strive for pupils' happiness

Post by Guest on Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:25 pm

Nems Again wrote:

Know what Fred you are entirely right it is the parents responsibility to raise an achieving well rounded community member who excels at school and is an all round good egg.
What do we do with those children who's parents cant?

A very good question Nems Very Happy

I'm torn on this one. I totally understand what Fred is saying and it frustrates the hell out of me. Why do people have kids if they can't take care of them? I don't mean giving them everything financially, I mean raising them to be decent members of the community, knowing right from wrong, setting a good example, providing a loving and safe environment in which to learn and grow up Evil or Very Mad

Why have children if you don't want all of those things for them? If you're not prepared to put their well being above your own and to give them what above all they need the most, love and your time confused






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