I could have filed this one under “Tales of Modern Life”, it is certainly further confirmation that modern life is rubbish.

A council uses powers drawn up to tackle serious crime and terrorism to spy on a family seeking a school place for their 3 year-old daughter.

For almost three weeks Poole Borough Council kept the family under surveillance using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), watching them on six occasions and keeping logs with entries such as “female and three children enter target vehicle and drive off” and “curtains open and all lights on in premises”.

Little wonder the family are furious and the local authority has been criticised by Liberty.

There are undoubtedly serious questions regarding civil liberties that this story raises. If local authorities feel able to use the RIPA powers to spy on families seeking a school place what other investigations could we face?

Putting the wrong items in recycling bins would be my favourite at the moment.

But it also further highlights the severe pressures faced by parents and children these days. With schools still wilfully breaking admissions rules, parents are having to come up with ever-more devious and determined efforts to secure the place they want for the apple of their eye.

It is more than a lottery, the struggle for school places is shaping up into an increasingly dirty fight.

It doesn’t matter who the winners of this fight are, the main losers are the children caught up in the middle.

Pity the poor parents who feel compelled to try any trick necessary to secure their child’s future.

But pity the child even more.

The pressure to justify their parents’ actions is being felt at an increasingly early – in the Poole case, just 3 years-old – which means the potential for lasting damage is increased that little bit more.

Modern life is rubbish. But we’ve only got ourselves to blame.

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One response »

  1. Ursula says:

    Yes, Paul, I briefly glanced at that item in the local paper (as you know Bournemouth and Poole are joined at the hip).

    On the whole the issue leaves me cold. Of course, I am not exactly overjoyed at anyone spying on anyone; though curtain twitching and neighbour hood watch can prove useful and contribute to real life soap opera drama.

    If anyone wants to know at what time I draw the curtains, light the fire, flush the loo – they only have to ask. How much more boring can life become for those poor spies?

    As to schooling and the measures parents in this country will take to get their kids into the “right” school (don’t get me started on this subject, I am trying to stay in first gear): Only 9 months ago a good friend of mine, a solicitor, asked me whether I would be willing to be godmother to her 10 year old daughter in a belated baptism, so she could go to to the secondary school (catholic obviously) of her choice. I ventured that I am not catholic but these days the Church appears not to be fussy. For two years beforehand my goddaughter’s parents visited the local church early every Sunday morning to make sure the vicar would sign the papers required by the school, to be even considered for a place. (Oh, yes, and she is very happy there now since September).

    The system stinks. I did the hypocrytical deed, mostly because I don’t believe in an afterlife so I am sure God will let me off lightly when the time comes, and send me straight to hell instead.

    As to tagging or microchipping recycling bins: Is this what I pay council tax for whilst I myself not only diligently separate the recyclable wheat from the landfill chaff but also entertain a compost heap and its attendend worms at the bottom of the garden?

    U

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