UK: The worst behaved pupils in the world?

Idealistic young teacher Robert Peal says his experience with children at a Birmingham comprehensive led to him losing faith in Britain’s schools system. (Picture posed by models)

At the inner-city secondary school where I taught for two years, one object neatly summed up its failings: the skip.

Hidden at the back of the school, this skip was kept full with furniture broken by out-of-control pupils, scraps of coloured paper scrawled across during endless “group work” lessons, and bin bags containing cola bottles and wrappers from sweets consumed during class.

At the end of each academic year, teachers would queue up beside it to discard box after box of pupils’ exercise books — as scrappy and disorderly as the lessons in which they had been used.

Looking at the school skip, I drew an inevitable, depressing conclusion: modern education was rubbish.