Fiona MacLeod, Scotsman (Edinburgh), August 16, 2008
EDUCATION bosses have come up a with a bizarre way to stop bored and disruptive teenage girls from dropping out of school—hip hop classes.
Pupils on the verge of leaving or being thrown out of school will be taught bounces, body ripples and butt spins to the music of Kanye West and 50 Cent in a bid to spark their enthusiasm in learning.
Educational experts believe the pilot project will re-engage troubled youngsters who have been playing truant or behaving badly.
If successful, the project, developed jointly by dance charity Showcase the Street and Angus College, could be rolled out across the rest of Scotland.
Fergus Storrier, a community policeman and chair of the lottery funded group, yesterday said the classes were not a “soft option” and warned girls would not be allowed to slack off.
“We want the course to act as a vehicle to re-engage them, but we will be setting ground rules,” he said.
“We don’t want to simply take them out of school and that is all they do. There will be a clear understanding that this is an add-on, conditional on carrying out their normal school work.”
The 60-hour scheme teaching basic moves has been accredited by the college to provide six Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework credit points. A Higher is worth 24 credits.
Initially, 15 youngsters from Arbroath will enrol.
Iverene Bromfield, curriculum manager for communication, arts and social sciences at Angus College, said it would teach the girls useful skills. She added: “This qualification will be of use anywhere where people are trying to enthuse and inspire youngsters. It will promote a can-do attitude and give them a sense of achievement on which to build.”
However, critics insisted disruptive and bad behaviour should not be rewarded.
Elizabeth Smith, Conservative schools spokeswoman, said: “It is up to individual headteachers if they think it would be appropriate for some pupils. It may be that some pupils will respond, but I would be sceptical.
“It is very much our policy that pupils who are persistently disruptive should be removed from class until they learn to behave and that is popular with teachers and parents alike.”
However, teachers refused to knock the scheme. Jim Docherty, depute general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said: “There have been various initiatives of this type and while it is maybe a bit unusual it may have a function.
“The SSTA has no objection to anything that retains contact between children and the education system.”
There are an estimated 35,000 teenagers in Scotland who choose to claim benefits rather than study or work.
A study by Westminster’s education department in 2002 calculated each such youngster cost the country £45,000 in benefits.