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The Youth of Today speak.....

Or rather have been polled in the thrill-a-minute Tellus 3 survey for Ofsted. Doubtless the headline figures will feature in the press etc tomorrow, but the Prince of Darkness is, as ever, lurking in the minutiae.

Firstly Ofsted's own admissions:

"The survey was carried out in Spring 2008. A sample of schools was selected within each local authority, representing the different types of schools in each area. The schools were then provided with guidance detailing how to select pupils to take part in the survey".

Knowing a teacher or two, and knowing the Potemkin villages that get set up to hoodwink Ofsted inspectors when they call, one does not have to be an industrial-grade cynic to imagine that the pupils selected are unlikely to have been each establishment's villains. So, make that one pinch of salt.

As for the second pinch of salt, what about this?: "Did you have help filling in this form such as from a teacher, teaching assistant or learning mentor?"

Yes, I had help with just some of it -11%
Yes, I had help with all or most of it - 3%

And the third pinch - some 18% answered yes or maybe to 'do you have a learning difficulty?'

Anyone who is, or was a child (so that's all of us...) will be well aware that those 14%, if not already scared off by having been selected in the first place, would be unlikely to tell the truth, the whole truth etc about some of the more intrusive questions, like this:

Have you ever smoked a cigarette?

No - 75%

And this is from 10-15 year olds. I do not believe the figure.

Have you ever taken drugs?

86% - No. And 4% took The Fifth

89% claim not to have smoked cannabis in the past 4 weeks, but hats off to the bombed 1% who can't remember or don't know.

Away from the 'difficult' questions, 4% claim not to have done any sport / exercise (1/2 hour sessions) in the last week. So much for PE lessons.... Mind you, 23% have taken the injunction to eat more fruit to heart and claim to eat their five a day. Given that potatoes and multiple portions of the same fruit / vegetable do not count (apparently), I doubt this too.

Meanwhile, they are an anxious bunch, with 92% having something to worry about, with 'exams' (57%) and 'my future' (49%) keeping them awake at night. Six per cent reckon they are bullied most days, which if true is pretty bad.

As to what they think of school, 8% enjoy it all the time, which given there will be a high likelihood of cross-country running, assembly etc in the average week is a bit of a credulity-stretcher. 33% claim to try their best all the time, and 23% reckon to learn a lot at school all the time. Ho hum.

Asked 'Which of these things would do the most to make your area a better place for you to live?', 4% reckon it is fine just as it is, but 45% think things would be improved by having better shops. A further 48% want it to be cleaner / have less litter, and my personal favourite is the 27% wishing for 'Fewer young people hanging around'.

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