Poor behaviour, low school morale and disaffected kids – the riots

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Let’s help ALL kids to achieve their true potential

As a former Deputy Head and Class Teacher for 22 years before changing direction into writing, broadcasting and parent coaching I am passionate about all children achieving their true potential. The UK riots saddened, shocked and opened up a whole new debate about how we as a society, community and as a nation have obviously failed in some pockets of society in raising young people with a vision for their own future.

Some of you who follow me on Twitter will remember a rant I had about poor behaviour, low school morale and disaffected kids after a day I spent doing my ” Beat Bullying ! Confidence Classes for Kids” Workshop in Catford and in Crystal Palace.

I’ve taught in tough inner city areas and in deprived areas like New Addington, as well as in private schools so I’ve had quite a wide variety of experiences over the years, so I found Jamie Oliver’s idea of a “Dream School” a few months ago to be fascinating.

Watching people who are recognised as experts in their field struggle to engage kids is excruciating, frustrating and just goes to prove NOT all people can teach or engage kids, but I really admire them for having a go.

The young people didn’t have the best starts in life and you can see they lacked confidence, self esteem, self respect, and direction.

Their lack of concentration, boundaries, good manners and their constant use of  mobile phones, laptops drove me mad !

Kids need firm, fair, consistent boundaries before you can teach them but that really does take time, commitment and patience.

It takes time for a teacher and student to know, trust and respect each other – it’ll be all about give and take on both sides.

It’s also about giving the students aspirations, higher expectations of themselves and a true fundamental belief in themselves that their past does NOT equal their future.

Young people and children from challenging backgrounds need daily, consistent support and encouragement and help in turning their dreams into goals with a date.

So many young people lack goals and need real help from their parents, their schools and their communities in coping and aspiring to a better life, where drug barons are not their role models and where they can over time see a better future for themselves.

We need as a society to break down the taboo that it’s embarrassing to go on parenting workshops – we need to make learning about how to raise happy, confident kids a natural thing to do – it should be as natural as going on ante – natal classes.

I’d like parents to just relax and see positive parenting as just a great way to make sure children have the best start in life. My washing machine came with written instructions in 8 languages –  my children left MaydayHospital in Croydon with just me !

My workshops are relaxed, informative and totally lacking in finger pointing or judgment – I’m there to make sure parents have fun exploring their parenting potential before things get too challenging.

I teach people about great ways to communicate with their kids, simple ways to discipline them and lots of ways to develop their self esteem and confidence.

The parents who come on my workshops are NOT broken, in need of therapy or  “bad” parents.  They just want to be the best they can be and they make friends, relax and realise that they are not alone … and guess what


I wrote and recorded my Confidence Classes for Kids CD to teach my strategies, techniques and ideas that I have learnt from my years of training with Paul McKenna and Tony Robbins as well as my “Living the Dream” CD and workbook for teenagers coaching them to dream bigger, aim higher and live life to it’s full potential.

In fact I wrote all of my Parenting Made Easy resources with that intention –  to help parents be the best they can be regardless of their race, colour, financial background or past.

I think Britain needs more that a Channel 4 programme to empower many of its young people with skills, aspirations and a sense of belonging.

This is a very complex problem where I don’t claim to have all the answers but I‘d like to be involved as one piece of the jigsaw. We can only solve low morale, the gang culture and lack of respect and “doing the right thing no matter what” by working as a team over a long period of time … perhaps it’s time to start a Parenting Revolution where it’s natural to ask for help, to try the 5 a day Parenting Checklist as a place to start, and to make sure not only does every child matter, but parenting matters too.


Here is an explanation of  Jamie’sDreamSchool programme if you’ve missed it.

“Nearly half of British children leave education without the qualifications they need to succeed. Jamie Oliver was one of them: he left school at sixteen with just two GCSEs.

He wanted to do something about it. So he brought together some of Britain’s most inspirational and expert individuals to try to persuade twenty young people, with just a handful of qualifications between them, to give education a second chance.

The kids, aged from sixteen to eighteen, were taught a range of subjects, supervised by an experienced head teacher, John D’Abbro.

The science teacher was Professor Robert Winston, history was taught by Dr David Starkey, politics by Alastair Campbell, drama by Simon Callow, music by Jazzie B, art by Rolf Harris, maths by Alvin Hall and sport by Olympic gold-medallist Daley Thompson.

Other experts lending their weight to the project include former poet laureate Andrew Motion, hip hop vocalist Tinchy Stryder, sailor Ellen Macarthur, photographer Rankin, barrister Cherie Blair, actor Dominic West, classics professor Mary Beard, explorer David Hempleman Adams, environmentalist Jane Poynter, school dinner lady Nora Sands and former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan.

The project comes as 47% British children fail to gain five GCSEs at grade A*-C, including English and Maths.

The issues faced by the students were diverse: Angelique moved home and school because of increasing violence in her area; Aysha lost the year before her GCSEs when her family sent her back to Bangladesh for unruly behaviour; Connor, from an old East End family, couldn’t see the point of school and has been doing odd jobs labouring since leaving; and Jamal was bullied at school.

In the first programme of the series, David Starkey showed the class some Seventh Century ‘bling’ from the Staffordshire Hoard, worth millions. A traditionalist, he planned to take a firm hand with bad behaviour, but he got off to a difficult start when he and a student trade insults.

Actor Simon Callow wanted to enthuse the children about Shakespeare by showing how relevant the bard is to today’s society. Robert Winston, a doctor, scientist and founding father of IVF wantd to try a very hands on approach with the kids, so he has them dissecting rats and a pig. And Jazzie B, who found fame with group Soul II Soul, wanted to turn the students into composers.

Jamie had a crisis on his hands – while David Starkey demanded that the students’ discipline is addressed, head teacher John D’Abbro thought it might be the distinguished historian who needs to re-think his approach.

The project will be providing long-term expert support to help the kids get back into education.

The series raises the issue of why so many young people are unengaged by education and asks what more could be done by society and the educational system to help them. It also aimed to find out if the new teachers can translate their real-life expertise into the realities of the classroom.

“Nearly half of Britain’s young people leave school without the recommended minimum of qualifications – I was one of them!” says Jamie Oliver. “So I wanted to see if we could inspire some of these young people – a handful of those kids who hadn’t been inspired at their own schools – by creating a school where the teachers were absolute experts in their subjects.”

“I have to say that I’ve never admired teachers more than I do now. Until you’ve tried it, you can’t possibly know what it’s like standing in front of a group of young people who aren’t interested in what you’re saying. And I think all the Dream School teachers came away with this huge respect for teachers.”




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