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The Education Forum

UNICEF Report and UK Education

John Simkin

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Children growing up in the United Kingdom suffer greater deprivation, worse relationships with their parents and are exposed to more risks from alcohol, drugs and unsafe sex than those in any other wealthy country in the world, according to a study from the United Nations.

The UK is bottom of the league of 21 economically advanced countries according to a "report card"' put together by Unicef on the wellbeing of children and adolescents, trailing the United States which comes second to last.

Report can be read here:


The Guardian published this interesting letter today by Norman Thomas (St Albans, Hertfordshire):

So, the Unicef report on children finds that we do all right as far as children's educational performance is concerned but badly in other respects, including friendliness and mutual support among children (Report, February 14). Is it any wonder that our children find the idea of mutual support strange when schools must put them through a competitive process from the time they are five?

The assessments at seven and the tests and assessments at 11, 14, 16 and 18 indicate whether a child is doing very well, well, satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily. The message is passed on to parents, some of whom inevitably become anxious or publicly proud. Bundle the results together and schools are then divided just as the children are. Why should anyone be surprised that there is a lack of cooperation and a growth of resentment, especially from those who are repeatedly told that they are not good enough?

Assessment of children and schools should be designed and used to identify what needs to be done next for that child or that school, not to put them in what is a very questionable order of merit.

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