It's a sad state of affairs to know that our young people are not being taught social and team building skills in school these days.
But Dave Cameron has an answer - albeit the wrong answer. Yesterday he expanded on his vision for the Big Society when he outlined plans for a National Citizen Service (NCS) for all 16-year-olds in England, as voluntary sector leaders warned they faced major cuts in their budgets for many existing youth programmes.
Under the Prime Minister's proposals young people will be encouraged to volunteer for eight weeks in the summer after finishing their GCSEs. The first 10,000 children will begin taking part next year, completing a three-stage programme which will include 10 nights away from home.
He said: "National Citizen Service will help change the fact that too many teenagers appear lost and feel their lives lack shape and direction. A kind of non-military national service, it's going to mix young people from different backgrounds in a way that doesn't happen right now."
The first problem I see with this proposal is that it sounds unhealthy. Not that these youngsters will be denied their 5-a-day unhealthy, but it smacks of indoctrination. These schools could churn out young people very much 'on message' - a younger and more brainwashed version of the Righteous whose sole ambition in life is to meddle in the lives of others. Messages regarding smoking, eating, drinking, exercise could well be pumped into the social atmosphere until we all take to our homes and never venture out again.
Stephen Bubb, head of Acevo which represents leaders in the voluntary sector, said that these summer schools will be 'colonised' by children of middle class parents, but his statement shows his obvious lack of knowledge of children. Many whose parents are 'middle class' are just as demotivated as children of any other class.
Appropriate and well qualified staff will also be essential. Over the years I've worked with many professional educationalists but few who would be suitable for a front line position in such a project. It would be good to see ex-military employed and trained to do a share of the front-line work, along with the likes of Scout leaders and Guide leaders - people who actually know children. That would ensure each child was treated equally.
It's a sad, modern truth that the introduction of comprehensive schools has done nothing to integrate children from all backgrounds. Wasn't that one of the main reasons given for doing away with grammar schools and academies?