Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 30 July 2009

The run up to the school holidays is always an enjoyable time as I get asked to attend prize givings and sometimes present prizes and say a few words.
It is a timely reminder that despite a negative press the current crop of youngsters is just as talented as previous generations and contains the same mixture as every cohort that any of us can remember. Each school year seems to comprise a tiny minority of truly gifted and exceptional people, who will go on to break records and invent new technologies or lead communities. Each group contains a larger but still small minority of those who have less intelligence who seem to be programmed to self-destruct and create mayhem. The majority are somewhere in the middle and most of these will go on to live responsible lives even if they may have the odd stormy incident upon the journey of their teenage years. Think back to your own school days. I doubt very much if the proportions of these three groupings has changed much over the years. Language and dress codes change (and how) but the same principles seem to be in play.
We should not resent the talented few who will fly high, but should inspire them to fly higher still. We should be proud of young people like Tom Daley who is such a great ambassador for his generation. Just think about the relentless regime of daily discipline that this teenager puts himself through - it is not just about natural talent. I saw this summer a handful of remarkable children receive countless prizes and was inspired by their achievements. We should not be levelling down, but lifting up.
The minority of real trouble makers have always been there. We must identify and crack down on the real ring leaders but do our best not to criminalise those on the fringes of this group who could be "saved" (from themselves) and live decent lives.
The main focus of our schools should be to inspire the vast majority of students to reach their utmost potential. We are very fortunate in this constituency to have five excellent secondary schools that serve our young people well. I have seen first hand the unstinting effort of so many of our teachers, and they deserve our thanks.

posted by Gary @ 10:58