Saturday, 14 September 2013

Bumbaclarts and Mr Pickles's Fantasies

How one simple word showed me that our government's social policies 
are inadequate and simplistic.

The Depth of the Problem
Someone I know through facebook, who works as a play therapist, recently commented that a child had called one of the teachers a ‘bumbaclart’.

You can look it up for yourself, but do not do so if you are easily shocked. Suffice it to say that I found the word so revolting that I cannot bring myself here even to hint at its meaning.

My estimation of the play therapist went through the roof. I had known they worked in a particularly difficult area, but the revelation that Primary School children there knew of such things made me realise what an amazing person they must be, to work day-after-day in such an environment, seeking to turn around children’s lives.

It used to be that deprivation was a matter of money. Today, deprivation is a toxic mix of poverty, alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence, and a sickening-to-the-pit-of-your-stomach sub-culture which has normalised what we used to call pornography.

The Inadequacy of the Solution
That one word made me realise that middle-class do-gooders like me actually know very little in our leafy suburbs of the depths of depravity with which some of our teachers grapple daily. And it made me suspect that Mr Gove, trapped in his Westminster bubble, is precious-poorly equipped to define the education system which is charged to rescue such children.

The other day, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles celebrated the government’s Troubled Families scheme whereby councils are paid £4,000 if they help the parents find work, get the children back into school and reduce the family’s impact on the local community. He claimed that, so far, 14,000 dysfunctional families had been ‘turned around’.

One has to wonder at the naivety of a minister who thinks that a ‘no-nonsense and common sense approach’ can so quickly and so easily ‘turn around’ the lives of small children familiar with bumbaclarts.

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