I see after reading Clare Foges in The Times this morning, that Rory Stewart has said that were he to become Prime Minister he would introduce Compulsory National Service (not military) for all 16 year olds. Not sure what I think about this but I know that there are an awful lot of young people who are 'at a loose end' in our big cities - and not getting any sense of self respect as a result.
One of the most important things a teacher in any Comprehensive School can do (and I speak as one who did such a job for most of my career), regardless of the subject they teach, is to give each pupil a sense of self-worth. Whether they belong to the very brightest, university material pupils or whether they belong to a place lower down in the school system (and that term 'lower down' in itself suggests they are less important) every single one of them has a niche in the scheme of things and if they leave school without the aim of achieving something then they don't start their post school life from a good place.
Parents moving house so that their children have a better chance of getting into a 'better' school says a lot to children whose parents either can't, wont or are in no position to do that.
Parents who pay for their child's education are saying where their child comes in the 'pecking order' without saying a word. (I am not against private education having sent my own child into that system).
Might some form of compulsory National Service be a good idea? How often do children from the different communities meet and do things together ? Living up here in The Dales I rarely see anyone from any ethnic community - maybe a few Chinese and Asian people who work in our local (and very good) speciality restaurants, maybe the occasional family up here on holiday. But contrast that with inner cities where knife crime is becoming very scary and where young people often have no sense of self-worth and ask yourself what can we do to help them to find that niche that is just the right one for them.
I don't know the answer. Maybe there is nobody who does. But isn't anything worth a try? I think back to the many black children and Sikh children I taught years ago. Lovely children who deserved a bright future. Did they find their niche? Do they have families, jobs they enjoy doing, did they fulfill their potential. As I now live so far away from where I taught I shall never know - but I do hope some of them at least did. And for those who didn't would a couple of years of mixing with all sorts of other young people and really learning to live in a multi racial society rather than within their own group have made any difference?