Talk-ED: Time to blow the whistle on the sideshow!

 
Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
5 March 2012

Nero will around soon to hand out the violins.

Once again as the rugby season approaches the secondary school system is made to look silly by the annual argument about eligibility to play school sport for this school or that school. The issue is this: some secondary school principals cannot trust each other. They believe that their colleagues (but without exception never themselves) will stoop to illegal means to gain advantage by poaching athletes with skill from other schools.

It really is the poacher up against the gamekeeper and the poacher turned gamekeeper all rolled into one.

They wish to have a stand-down period which will expunge any naughty thoughts from the minds of young people who want to play sport for their new school and serve to teach the new Principal a jolly good lesson.

Set to music by Gilbert and Sullivan it would be a hit – intrigue, pomposity, victims, heroes and some damned fine choruses.

I felt some sympathy for the young lad who, having shifted school (as is his right), is now not allowed to play for six weeks (which is a breech of his rights). He wonders why a drunken All Black responsible for a certain amount of mayhem gets four weeks and he gets six weeks for doing nothing. He might well wonder why a cricketer who has repeated  misdemeanours gets one week and he gets 6!

A cricket coach tells me of being accosted by a Principal from the school they were playing against who declaimed that a certain young man should not be playing. He left with the assertion that “You are in trouble!” – later he was proved to be wrong.

I cannot understand for one minute why Principals who expect all their students to play by the rules seem unable to expect that they and their colleagues will as well.

If a young boy or a young girl sees opportunities at another school and is able to make the change, who should stand in their way? Such changes do not always pay off and there are quite a few instances of young men and women who don’t make the grade. Of course the school to which they are going must be able to show that they have behaved ethically and professionally. Principals have, since principal groups first existed, exercised too much of their time at meetings coming to an agreement about how “school transfers” are to be managed. (If FIFA can get it right, a group of principals working at a school level ought to be able to.)

Having agreed they should simply let themselves and their colleagues be guided by those rules. Schools derive leadership from both Principals and Principles and when there are Principals with Principles the results can be magic.

All principals know how tedious it is to have to sort out a “she said/he said”,  “no I didn’t / yes you did” sort of argument between Year 10 students. Well, that is the same tedium that the public sees in the arguments school leaders have about school sport and eligibility.

Those who set school sport on the greasy slippery slope of inducements for playing school sport for schools might have stopped and given it a little more thought at the time. Come to think of it, that is exactly the advice they often give to silly students who end up in their office after some incident or another.

And there are surely real issues in education that need their attention.

 

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  1. Lynne Ashman says:

    Here, here!

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