Some years ago now the government launched an initiative in schools called Every Child Matters. Since no-one ever seems to close an initiative it is presumably still in force and the ideas within it, have hopefully been incorporated into everyday school life. ECM, as it was known within the teaching profession, was seen as important because it reminded everyone that, no matter what their academic ability, all pupils were entitled to a good education. Initially, as parents became aware of ECM conflicts arose with different schools and quite often mediation was used in order to resolve matters.
In my view the problem with ECM is the C bit. Obviously in a school children do matter and it would be absurd to suggest that they are not the number one priority. However schools also contain adults and, often reflecting the areas in which they are situated, these staff represent the range of different cultures and religions which make the United Kingdom such an interesting and dynamic place in which to live. Surely in these difficult times we should be emphasising to children that everyone matters. By teaching mediation and conflict resolution in schools we can try to influence opinion and attitude both nationally and internationally. I have no doubt that we will also find that our schools are much more harmonious and that the results that the Department of Education and OFSTED require will be much more forthcoming.
I was reminded of all this as I recently sat, as an expectant grandfather, in the waiting room of the maternity ward of my local hospital. There emblazoned on the wall were the words:
“Everybody Matters Everything Counts Everyone’s Responsible.” Now there’s an initiative worth government attention!