SCHOOL Counsellors Working With Young People and
Staff, by Nick Luxmoore (Jessica Kingsley Publishing,
£16.99 (£15.29); 978-1-84905 460-7).
Perhaps, happily, the scourge of drugs is not the problem in the
schools it once was. Arguably, it has been replaced by a plague far
more insidious and difficult to deal with.
Tallulah Wilson, a London schoolgirl, threw herself under a
train at St Pancras station at the age of 15, considering herself
to be "fat, ugly and worthless". It was an image she had created
for herself with the help of others. It could not have been further
from the truth. Her devastated mother described in graphic detail
the "toxic digital world" into which her daughter had withdrawn,
freely consulting blogs that encourage self-harm and suicide.
Tallulah is by no means the only one. In August last year,
14-year-old Hannah Smith took her own life, having fallen victim to
a sustained online bullying campaign. Self-harm among teenage girls
has reached pandemic proportions.
"The forces undermining girls now are horrendous and incessant,"
says a parenting consultant, Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer. Boys are not
exempt, but it is girls who are bearing the brunt of this latest
teenage angst. Nick Luxmoore's book, therefore, could not be more
It is not the internet which killed these youngsters.
Correlation does not equal causation. The fact is that mental
illness afflicts both students and staff in schools in significant
Luxmoore has worked in schools as a counsellor for over 20
years. The book is brutally honest; the language is often, shall we
He faces up, first, to the generally ambivalent view of
counselling: "quack" psychologists, for example, and the subtle
pressures placed by teachers on a counsellor establishing a
different kind of relationship with their students. The
case-studies are immediately recognisable and realistic.
By far the biggest pressure on the school counsellor, according
to Luxmoore, is the desire from other professionals for quick
results. The teacher wants the student to achieve a C grade at all
costs. "How are you getting on with him," the teacher enquires of
the counsellor. "Is there anything I should know?" Given that the
teacher's pay is now linked to results, the tension is clear.
This handy volume is a must for any school debating the issues
Talking of teachers and why they do the job in the first place,
What Motivates Christian Educational
Practitioners?, by Howard Worsley (Grove Books, eD17,
£3.95 (£3.55); 978-1-85174-881-5).
This is a theological exploration of the question in the title.
Howard Worsley, a prolific writer on all aspects of church schools,
makes a valiant attempt to draw up a theological underpinning of a
teacher's work, in a "context where pupils need to make two levels
of progress in English and Maths in a given year, or where a
headteacher is observing an inadequate lesson".
It is most successful when it sticks to the brief. The part that
covers redemption and restoration is particularly helpful. The Gove
philosophy of one chance and you're labelled, is deeply resented
and resisted by all schools, and most ignore it, regardless of the
damage it may do to them in the league tables. Worsley has got it
right, and good on him.
The relationship between grace and OFSTED is not, however,
Worsley's greatest strength is his analysis of the current
educational context, and how a distinctive Christian education can
be established within a state-funded school. He freely relies on
other scholars who work in a similar field, for example Jeff
Astley, and gives the reader choices. There is no one-size-fits-all
It is excellent value for money and invaluable for Church school
heads and governors facing inspection.
HELP, There's a School In My Parish! by Anthony
Buckley (Grove Books, eD16, £3.95 (£3.55);
978-185174-872-3). is written for chaplains and church members
wishing to involve themselves in schools; the flavour is gentle,
and very easy to understand.
The writer concentrates on traditional forms of involvement:
assemblies, and use of church buildings, for example. He has,
however, some useful reminders about special schools and exclusion
units, both of which would not currently be natural habitats for
chaplains and church volunteers.
Mere Education: C. S. Lewis as teacher for our
time, by Mark. A. Pike (Lutterworth Press, £17.50;
978-0-7188-9325-5). Far more challenging, in an intellectual sense,
this volume will delight the huge army of Lewis devotees. It is
readable, and the extensive footnotes give some indication of the
level of research involved.
Where Lewis's genius cannot be denied is in the field of
storytelling, and, since schools and children feature prominently
in his writings, the author is able to draw some fascinating
insights into the educational process from them.
The imagery is rich, and many of the lessons are timeless and
beautiful. But we cannot evade the reality that Lewis died in 1963.
In the same way as Thomas Arnold speaks some timeless truths, he is
nevertheless from another age.
Pike reminds us, for example, that for Lewis any sexual activity
outside heterosexual marriage is sin. Lewis is firmly of the view
that the Christian rule is either complete faithfulness to one
partner or total abstinence. Pike's sub-title ("C. S. Lewis as
Teacher for our Time") may be so, but in several aspects it will be
a highly contentious view.