Thursday 16 July 2009

On pieces of paper

Phillip Pullman is venting on R4 at the moment.

He's upset because he's going to have to be police checked before he can go into schools. I don't think it will come up proselytising atheist, reject, but still....

I calculate that I have been checked out six times since I started teaching and I've only had three different jobs. If I got involved with children outside work, I could have been done lots more times. Yes, the forms do smack of a police state. I don't have any former names, but if you have any name changing in your past, it all goes down with dates. That's thanks to Maxine Carr.

Obviously, as a Music Teacher, the opportunities for misdeeds are many. If you were given to stealing money the opportunities are many too. Unlike many occupations that deal with people, we see the same ones over a period of time and develop relationships with them, where we are the ones in power.

It's unlikely that a visitor to a school with evil intent could form a relationship with a pupil and continue it outside, but not impossible, especially if they were a greatly admired author.

So up to a point I can sympathise with Mr Pullman. But it does annoy me that he considers himself to be above being checked, but it's presumably OK for me to have to keep writing down all my addresses for the last five years, and all my personal details and be checked every three years.

Does this culture of mistrust reach into everyday life? Yes. Occasionally, orchestras I play in outside school suggest that there might be some sixth formers who could play. The answer is no because I cannot vouch that every single person present is OK. They probably are, but I would be held responsible if anything went wrong. I would feel responsible if anything went wrong.

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