Tuesday 24 September 2019


I had just finished two sessions with the excellent Year 3 children of Park End Primary when I dashed to catch the bus to my next school. It is hard to believe that a woman boarding the bus with a pushchair could have sparked off such a ferocious row as the one I witnessed shortly afterwards. An older lady and her younger companion steadfastly refused to budge an inch from their seats, which just happened to be in the space reserved for pushchairs. When another lady came forward to move the older lady’s walking trolley a couple of inches to the left to make room for the pushchair, all manner of absurd behaviour and extremely foul language broke loose.

This went on until the angry couple finally disembarked. They managed to swear and shout directly into the faces of the vast majority of the other passengers along the way, before delivering an even louder finale directly at the driver, accusing him of causing the entire problem by letting the pushchair on in the first place.

It was all small-league stuff in the grand scheme of things and no more embarrassing than anything we see on the news every evening. Yet the immediate contrast between the hard-working young children I had been with minutes before the disgraceful scenes erupted on the bus was very stark indeed. It is even possible the perpetrators of the ugly scenes are related to the children with whom I worked.

I moved on to Whale Hill Primary and enjoyed a very fine afternoon with children from Year 2 to Year 6. They all worked hard and were keen students who just wanted to learn as much as possible. They were polite, well-mannered and fully engaged in our lessons.

Middlesbrough was recently named as the most deprived area in the country and it sometimes seems as if such a nonsense of a title could be used as a catch-all excuse for all manner of extreme human behaviour.

It isn’t - and it should never be.

Nobody has to end up with anger and aggression as their default setting.

I have consistently championed the cause of the young over the course of more than three decades. I have never wavered from the belief that they can go on to create a better world, despite the increasing number of difficulties placed in their way.

Our children and teachers are working very hard indeed to make the absolute best of what they have. Scratch away the veneer of the ugly modern world and you will find so many wonderful people, so many success stories and so much to enjoy.

Never stop believing that good people - of all ages - can make a very significant difference.

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