We must act now to help Protestant youth
SEVERAL years ago, a substitute teacher, who had experience of working in many schools in the Belfast area, commented to me that he was surprised at the difference in the standard of behaviour tolerated in state schools, compared to Catholic schools.
He provoked me to ask a range of substitute teachers over a year for their perception of this, and most confirmed that controlled (non-selective Protestant) schools tolerate a lower standard of behaviour.
In a letter published in the Belfast Telegraph last year (Write Back, October 17, 2013), I argued that teachers were struggling to create an ordered and focused atmosphere in the classroom for children who were used to the thrill of street confrontation caused by a sequence of protests ranging from Drumcree 2001 to the flags protests.
I believe these have allowed the changing attitude of Protestant families towards authority to affect school discipline and pupil grades.
Those who support street protests rejected this suggestion and will do so again, but the evidence of a decline in working-class Protestant academic achievement is now beyond doubt. Unless we take action to improve the classroom behaviour and the attitude towards education of working-class boys from the Protestant community, we are in danger of allowing our children to slide into academic failure, followed by economic disaster.