WHO exactly is supposed to teach our children the right thing to do?

This week the finger seemed to be pointed clearly towards teachers with the surprising accusation that children in state schools are being turned out without any morals.

The claim was made by Richard Walden who is chairman of the Independent Schools Association. A man in that post, you would think, would have considered it bad form to have a go at the chaps and chapesses working in the state education world. Well, if not immoral then certainly bordering on rude.

Mr Walden, head of Castle School in Shropshire, pointed out that teachers in the state system were not to blame for churning out amoral youngsters, you understand. They simply couldn’t find the time with such a hectic curriculum set by the Government to produce what he describes as a “rounded education”.

Private schools, on the other hand, still had the time because staff have fewer pupils, and more financial support one presumes, to provide decent examples of fair play and good citizenship by offering extra sport, community service, collective worship, pastoral care and school trips.

How lovely. And such tosh.

If we take Mr Walden by his words, and I suspect as the head of a private school he is seldom if ever denied that, busy staff in state classrooms the length and breadth of the land simply don’t have the time to set decent standards. They can’t, for instance, point out when a pupil is acting in an amoral manner, insist on good manners when being spoken to, curb over-enthusiasm when it begins to border on boisterousness, nor weave examples of good moral behaviour (Hitler bad – Churchill good) into everyday lessons?

Really? I suspect, indeed I know, the vast majority of teachers and schools do this all the time. What’s more schools in the state sector offer all manner of extra curricula activities for pupils to round off their otherwise academic education, whether in the form of sports, drama, trips and, yes, volunteering and community works.

Collective worship? Erm – tick that one as well.

True, there is always room for improvement.

However, the most surprising part concerning Mr Walden’s claims is that he is plain wrong. I don’t see a mass of amoral children today. What I do see is a fabulous generation of talented youngsters who simply won’t follow the old way of doing things.

That many young people do tremendous community work, make splendid volunteers, act as carers, represent their schools and clubs at sport and play active roles in their communities means we should be proud of this generation of state-educated youngsters and think twice before putting them down.

Of course not all youngsters are little angels. But there are bad apples in plenty of private schools. And no mention from Mr Walden, as far as I am aware, of what role parents are expected to play in teaching their children morality.

Certainly I was more afraid of my parents’ reaction to any misdemeanour as a child than my teachers’.

Mr Walden then should probably do his homework before making such statements and, as I was always taught, think before speaking.