Friday, July 17, 2009

School Visiting Perils part three

Story from BBC News website 16 July :

...Government officials have suggested many authors will not need checks to visit schools. A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said "These checks have been misunderstood. Authors will not have to register with the Vetting and Barring Scheme if they work with children once or infrequently. In fact, people working in schools will only be required to register if they work with children on a regular basis. This is because visitors to schools, even if they are supervised by a teacher at all times, are being placed in a unique position of trust where they can easily become deeply liked and trusted by pupils. We therefore need to to be sure that this trust is well placed in case pupils bump into them out of school where a teacher is not present. While we fully accept that the vast majority of workers or volunteers would never abuse their position of trust, parents would not want adults working regularly with young children, even on a voluntary basis, without any sort of background check at all."

Gives me a shiver ... Of course no one wants children to be abused or put into any kind of danger. But, and this for me is a Mount Everest of a But, we do want children to talk and engage with adults. And we do want adults to talk and engage with children. That is how we all learn and live and enjoy life. And yes of course reasonable care should be taken...but should we monitor (for example) all corner shops where the kids go in, spend pocket money and have a bit of banter with the shopkeeper on a very regular (daily) basis? Of course not. The whole logic seems deeply flawed. An author could be liked and trusted after one visit and then where are you? What constitutes regular? Hints of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"
Enid Stephenson

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